Cavalia Odysseo April 2015 in Toronto

Cavalia Odysseo April 2015 in Toronto

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THE SHOW Odysseo: Larger Than Life The horse has marked human history and progress more than any other animal. Horses have taken us to the ends of the earth, enabled us to build bridges between cultures and expand civilization. It is the beauty and harmony of this ancient relationship, this meeting of two worlds – those of horse and man – that inspired the creators of Cavalia’s second show, Odysseo. As friends, partners and inseparable performers on stage, 70 horses and 45 artists lead the viewer on a great journey in yet another world – a world of dreams – where, together, they discover some of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes.

With this new creation, Cavalia marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. A veritable revolution in live performance, Odysseo comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring big top, the biggest stage, the most beautiful visual effects, and the greatest number of horses at liberty.

The creators of this new ode to the horse made the decision to indulge their wildest artistic ambitions. Their gamble paid off: Odysseo pushes the limits of live entertainment by creating a larger-than-life show that sends hearts racing, but it is also a feast for the eyes that succeeds in delivering the spectacular with soul.

Scenography and Visual effects

To give life to this extraordinary equestrian adventure, Cavalia created a 1,626 square metres stage, in the middle of which rise two hills each three storeys tall. Some 10,000 tons of rock, earth and sand are trucked in and then sculpted to create the vast space of freedom where humans and horses come to play in complicity.

Above the stage hangs an imposing technical grid capable of supporting 80 tons of equipment including, a full-sized merry-go-round, far beyond anything attempted to date on any touring show and comparable to the best-equipped theaters of Las Vegas, London or New York.

Odysseo is a show unlike any other on the planet. This unique theatrical production is a grandiose multi-dimensional show. Spectators are taken to a live Hollywood-style movie set while the touching interactions between human and horse are at the heart of the action. Layers of mesmerizing decors combined with gravity-defying acrobatic and areal stunts and the staggering effects created by state-of-the-art scenery makes this humongous stage a feast for the eyes. To enhance this breathtaking experience, the production presents a splendid voyage with extremely high-definition computer graphic images, transporting the audience across the world’s most beautiful landscapes. To project these breathtaking graphic backdrops on an immense cyclorama the size of three IMAX screens, Odysseo uses projectors as powerful as those illuminating the grandest movie theaters. But whereas a cinema has only one projector, Odysseo uses 18 simultaneously. This live multi-dimensional voyage is a veritable revolution in live entertainment production.

A world of dreams and fantasies

The dream begins in a misty, enchanted forest where horses graze and frolic under a sky of rolling clouds and a setting sun. Horses, riders, acrobats and musicians embark on a soulful journey that leads them from the Mongolian steppes to Monument Valley, from the African savannah to Nordic glaciers, from the Sahara to Easter Island.

Throughout this grand voyage, spectators discover urban stilters and applaud the prowess of a troupe of African acrobats. Viewers are mesmerized by horses powering angelic aerialists in a four-person silks act that takes them into the skies. To the sound of an African harp called a Kora, audiences witness the beauty of 15 horses lying on sand dunes awaken. They will likewise appreciate the beautiful liberty number, uniting purebred Arabian horses directed by inaudible vocal commands from their kneeling trainer.

The scenes follow the seasons and their attendant wonders. At times, the horses and people in this fabulous caravan become too numerous to count.

The Odysseo epic wraps up with a fantastic crescendo as the stage is inundated with 300,000 litres of water in just a few minutes. A vertiginous virtual waterfall overhangs the resulting lake, in which horses, riders and artists join to frolic, leaving behind them the traces of their splashes and an astonished audience.

A show that feeds the soul

Although the audacity, inventiveness and monumental scope of Cavalia’s new creation may boggle the mind, the essence of this magnificent equestrian odyssey lies elsewhere. Beyond the impressive technical display and equestrian and acrobatic numbers that are unlike anything ever seen on stage, Odysseo is first and foremost a work that feeds the soul. In these difficult, troubled times, Odysseo offers up something gentle, even tender. The poetry flowing from this grand adventure shines a light on a more humane world where human and horse may live in harmony. For just a few hours, the spectator sets off to discover new horizons, the limits of his imagination, and gets to experience a waking dream in a world where beauty, serenity and hope reign.


Standing 38 meters tall, the White Big Top is a traffic-stopping addition to the skyline of each city Odysseo performs. When visitors enter, they are immediately transported into a lavish and intimate environment reminiscent of any permanent theatre.

Following the instant success of the first Cavalia show in 2003, Latourelle began to dream of how to break through the limitations of a big top tent. The biggest challenge was to open up the performance area. Latourelle knew that such unprecedented flexibility would allow him to showcase more horses and acrobats to create mind-boggling scenes. This involved removing supporting masts from the stage, a common staging issue in tent shows. A specially-designed big top was created in Europe, where the weight of the structure shifted from masts to three arches above the tent. The Italian firm Canobbio, in collaboration with Artistic Director Normand Latourelle, designed the tent and supervised construction. Asteo of France and Genivar of Canada supervised engineering operations. The arches that support the massive structure were built by Show Canada.

More than twice the size of the structure created for Cavalia’s original production, the White Big Top is the size of two NFL football fields. The 1,626 square metres stage, larger than a hockey rink and the 15 meters wide backstage area offer a vast playground for more than 30 cantering horses. The grandiose stage also offers incredible possibilities for large-scale staging.

A total of five tents comprise the Odysseo village. The White Big Top houses the stage and backstage, seating and lobby areas under a single roof. A Rendez-Vous tent hosts VIP ticket holders for dinner, an open bar and photo opportunities with the artists. This package includes a private tour of the stables and the best seats in the house. The horses live in a climatecontrolled stable tent complete with showers, tack shop and a blacksmith department. Between the stables and White Big Top, the Warm-Up tent is where the riders rehearse with the horses before and after the show. This area also includes wardrobe, makeup and dressing areas for the two-legged artists. A staff kitchen tent prepares more than 600 meals daily.


Odysseo features 70 horses of 14 different breeds including the Appaloosa, Arabian, Canadian, Criollo, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Paint Horse, Percheron, Quarter Horse, Selle français, Purebred (P.R.E.), Warmblood and Lipizzan.

The horses are from Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, The United States and Canada.

There are 45 artists – riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians.

The artists are from around the world including the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Belgium, Guinea, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, Japan and Poland.

There are 350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots in the show. Artists may have up to seven different costumes.

An artist may have no more than 30 seconds to do a quick costume change between numbers.

A team of 13 dressmakers, one property master, one designer and one shoemaker worked in the Cavalia studios to create the costumes.

Materials used in the costumes include linen, silk, cotton, leather and some imitation fur. The use of natural fibers gives the clothes sheen and lets them fall in a way that synthetic fibers simply cannot match.

The costumes are adapted to the artists’ needs, especially those of the acrobats and riders, to facilitate their onstage movement while not compromising their appearance.

The on-tour costume department consists of one wardrobe person and three dressers who launders, mends and cares for the costumes. At times during the show, they juggle 15 simultaneous wardrobe changes. They have two sewing machines, one shoe-repair machine and one overlock machine.


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