There’s never a dull moment in southern California. Today, we had the opportunity to see Odysseo by Cavalia under the White Big Top. It features 65 beautiful horses, 48 riders, incredible acrobats, aerialists, and musicians. Known as the world’s largest touring production, Odysseo marries the equestrian arts, stage arts, and high-tech theatrical effects into two hours of awe-inspiring entertainment. Beyond the impressive technical display and equestrian and human performances, Odysseo offers raw beauty that can only be experienced with live entertainment. Odysseo by Cavalia was masterminded by one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil and he takes the magic of Cirque to a new level. We were mesmerized from start to finish.
Odysseo begins in a forest where horses freely roam while the sun is setting on a state-of the-art video screen. The horses gracefully walked out to the center of the stage as if on point. They knew exactly where and how to stand. They even playfully, lovingly nuzzled each other like it was all part of the show. Their counterpart, the trainers, slowly walked out and you could see the connection they had with these beautiful animals. The strings of a guitar carried the audiences onto the stage with them.
Awakening us from our soothed state, the music picked up as bareback riders enter center stage. Odysseo has this ability to transition from upbeat to graceful, from mouth agape to hands clapping within minutes. In one of the most impressive feats of the show, a rider crawled around the middle section of a horse as it galloped around the stage. I felt like I should look away so I didn’t witness a man’s death but somehow he climbed around the other side. How he managed to avoid getting hit in the head or body by the galloping hoofs is beyond me.
One of the stars of the show, a beautiful white stallion, wanted to do his own thing, running off and prancing around the stage showboating his beauty. I couldn’t help but laugh at his spirited rebellion. There must have been 25 horses performing in unison while this one horse completely did his own thing. Men and women trainers tried to get him back on track but it took several minutes. It reminded me of a child, my child, ignoring me and dancing next to me rather than sitting in her seat. It was like they were compelled by the music and couldn’t be held back.
After some gentle wrangling by the trainers, the horse was back in line but his display was evidence of the raw nature of it all. Unbridled and uncontrolled, the horses are ultimately free to do what they like.
While I loved the horses and was amazing at their elegance and grace, my favorite part of the show was the acrobatics. These incredible athletes performed insane rows of back flips, more than 25 in succession, and spun so many different ways I don’t know how they knew which way was up. They flipped endlessly across the stage and piled on each other’s shoulders to form human totem poles. They used stilts to leap high bars and moved to the rhythm of the primal power of drumming. Their sheer strength and agility seemed as powerful as the horses.
From the strength of the men who defied gravity with their flips and jumps to the trick riders and playful horses, Odysseo by Cavalia took us on a journey to a world where dreams become reality. Like our favorite rebellious horse, Athena couldn’t be contained in her seat during the show. She was too excited to dance to the music, but that’s what great entertainment does to children. We enjoyed it equally and couldn’t get enough.