Cavalia Odysseo is in Mississauga this summer!
There’s something undeniably magical about Odysseo*, Cavalia’s second show. Even standing outside the White Big Top in a parking lot in Mississauga, you can feel it. The magic seeps through the thick fabric of the tent, along with the sweet scent of pink cotton candy. There’s a contagious buzz of excitement in the air as we make our way to our seats, and I can’t help but squeal with delight at the trees that peek through the curtain on both side of the stage, hinting at the enchanting forest that’s just out of sight for now.
Odysseo is an audacious multi-dimensional experience where equestrian arts, theatrical effects, and acrobatic stunts are set to live music inside a giant white tent that seats over 2000 people. 65 horses and 48 artists share the stage for two hours in a series of captivating scenes that feature dressage, jumping, and trick riding for the four-legged stars, and acrobatics, aerial silks, and dance for the humans.
Refreshingly, there’s no narration or dialogue in Odysseo, just soothing music to fill the silence. It’s unusual to be able to switch off and just feel. I was so dazzled by the music and the horses’ shiny manes and tails that I felt like I was dreaming by the time the first scene ended.
Though there’s no plot to follow in the traditional sense of the word, the transitions between different landscapes and seasons speak to the deep connection between humans, land, and horses. Odysseo transports us to Africa, to the American Southwest, and to the Easter Island, and its decors replicate lush forests, green fields, ice caves, and the Northern Lights with clever use of layered 3D sets and stunning lighting. The landscapes are spectacular, built with 10 000 tons of sand, a giant screen, and 18 projectors.
When the stage was flooded with 150 000 litres of recycled water at the very end of the performance, I couldn’t help but think that it would have been the most exciting thing to happen in just about any other show, but not in this one. After two hours of dazzling acrobatics and death-defying horse riding stunts, I was a bit desensitized.
Photo Credit: Andrew Miller via Cavalia
I’ve been on a horse exactly once before, and it wasn’t love at first ride, but I was drawn into the Odysseo world just the same. You don’t need to love horses to appreciate the performance, though I’m sure I missed out on a ton of impressive technical details.
The 65 Odysseo horses are exceptionally well-trained, and they respond to barely visible hand gestures and inaudible commands from their trainers, which gives the impression that they’re trotting across the stage in perfect formation of their own accord.
My personal favourite horse moment was when one of the four-legged artist decided it didn’t want to stay in formation and took off for a break. It was quickly sorted out, and the trainers were so calm that it was barely noticeable.
The opening scene is magical, with beautiful white horses frolicking in a misty meadow at dawn, and the show quickly picks up the pace by moving on to synchronized roman riding. It sets the tone for the whole performance, which oscillates between dream-like sequences and heart-stopping stunts.
Photo Credit: Jak Wonderly via Cavalia
Before intermission, a fully functional carrousel with both rotating and static poles descends from the ceiling to serve as a giant prop. The wintery aerial silks performance is another highlight of the night, with the acrobats gracefully flying through the air while the horses and their riders perform below.
In the final scene, Cavalia’s star horse, Omerio, performs complicated ballet-like dressage moves in the artificial lake that floods the stage, and his co-stars and their humans then use it for terrifying tricks that send water splashing into the front row and drench the spectators sitting there.
Photo Credit: Dan Harper via Cavalia
Where to sit & who should go
If you’re wondering which seats to book, I have to say that of the great thing about Cavalia Odysseo is that no matter how far back you are, you’re close enough to the stage to get a great view.
It’s family-friendly, so it can be a nice outing with the kids who will be absolutely delighted by the horses and probably beg you to buy a plush horse at the gift shop. It’s also the perfect romantic summer date night, though Nick might say otherwise because I was annoyingly excited from start to finish.
Seriously, don’t miss it. It’s enchanting.
There’s beautiful aerial sequences and skillful gymnastics, daring equestrian stunts and perfectly synchronized performances by humans and horses alike.
Cavalia Odysseo is in Mississauga until July 16, 2017, and then it’s taking its 125 feet high tent, 65 horses, and 48 humans to Nashville. Don’t miss it while it’s in town!
*The tickets were kindly provided by Cavalia, but the childish excitement is all my own.