When Cavalia’s original, self-titled show came through Calgary in the past, I often wondered what went on under the big white tent at Canada Olympic Park, but never actually attended, which means I was excited to hear that the company had a brand new show called Odysseo coming to town. Cavalia’s shows bring together equestrian showmanship, acrobatics, music, and multi-media elements, all presented with an artistic flair that rivals that other big Quebec-based production company, Cirque du Soleil.
With its enormous set, almost 70 horses, live music, and video backdrop (the size of three IMAX screens), Odysseo is a huge undertaking and at times all of it seemed a bit overwhelming. This intensity was intentional — the show’s underlying theme is about the shared dreams of humans and horses and the disorienting intensity of the production actually felt dreamlike.
Odysseo opens with a lone singer on stage with several unsaddled horses milling about, and I was instantly drawn into the beauty of the animals simply standing on stage, without riders, just being themselves. As the show continues through various scenes involving trick riders, jumping, and controlled step work (as well as performances from human acrobats), the mood continuously shifts and changes so that the audience doesn’t get too much of any one element at once. Some of the sections are more compelling than others, but audience favourites like the daring trick riders, back-flipping acrobats, and performers on bouncing stilts keep up the pace in between some more subtle moments with the horses.
While these elements would be a show in and of themselves, what makes Odysseo a world-class show is Cavalia’s incredible standards when it comes to show’s production. That giant video backdrop isn’t a gimmick — it drastically changes the landscape of the set, making the show feel more like a live movie than a stage show. The technology is cool and the Cavalia team uses it so tastefully, so it never comes off as being tacky or over the top. I don’t want to give too much away, but there also is a water element to the show that also utilizes some heavy-duty technical work in a really elegant way.
Despite all of the technology, though, it really is the horses and the human feats of strength and agility that make this show special. Unlike most equestrian entertainment, Odysseo uses a large number of stallions, which adds an element of unpredictability to the programming. Seeing the horses frolic and buck (and occasionally go off in directions that they probably aren’t supposed to) roots the show in reality, constantly reminding you that these are real animals painstakingly trained by real people.
One word of advice: while Odysseo is beautiful and at times awe-inspiring, it is a fairly long show without a clear storyline or any dialogue and some segments may not be of huge interest to those who aren’t interested in the more technical aspects of horse riding. The show is family friendly, but it might feel a little too long for young children or those with limited attention spans. With that in mind, if your kids are up for it, they will be mesmerized. If you don’t think they can handle two and a half hours of horses and acrobatics, buy a pair of VIP tickets (which allows you access to the Rendez-Vous Lounge) and take your spouse out on a date night.
Special Offer for Family Fun Readers!
Family Fun Calgary readers can purchase 2 regular prices adult tickets and 2 child or juniors tickets at 30% off! Use Promo Code 4PACK! Offer valid via www.cavalia.net