Mention to a friend that you’re going to see Odysseo by Cavalia and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll respond, “Oh, the horse show?”
But, referring to the second production from the Montreal-based entertainment company as a “horse show” is really only telling part of the story.
It’s true that the horses – almost 70 of them in all, a mix of geldings and stallions – are an integral part of the two-hour performance. The majestic creatures inspire awe with their impressive training and discipline and, for many in the audience, it’s truly a unique opportunity to be able to be so close to these four-legged artists.
But Odysseo is also a human story. The performers clearly have a bond with the horses, and are able to both run beside them and perform atop them with total trust. In fact, there are even many scenes that contain no horses at all, that simply highlight the jaw-dropping strength, acrobatic skill and sheer athleticism of the almost 50 human performers.
And you can’t talk about Odysseo without mentioning the staging. The show is accompanied by organic, atmospheric music, performed live by musicians that flank the stage. And the stage itself is truly incredible: just when you think you have a handle on the set-up, the lighting will shift, or an unexpected element will appear, creating an entirely new scene.
So yes, Odysseo is a show with horses, but it’s not a horse show. It’s a show about the unexpected relationships that can exist between different species. It’s a show about the depths of human imagination. And ultimately, it’s a show about how different elements can come together to create something truly unique, dazzling and even magical.
Odysseo by Cavalia runs until June 1 under the White Big Top at Canada Olympic Park.
By Sara Elizabeth Taylor
Photos: Francois Bergeron (top), Lynne Glazer (thumbnail)