If you have never seen or heard of either Odysseo by Cavalia or the White Big Top venue at the Port Lands, there are three images that will be forever etched in your mind after seeing it. The first is catching a glimpse of the enormous, brilliant white tent towering high over the Port Lands for the first time. The second is finding your seat inside the White Big Top and glancing up at the impossibly vast space above you. The third is when the curtains roll back and you finally see Odysseo’s magnificent horses take the stage.
You don’t have to be a horse lover – or even an animal lover – to appreciate the collection of horses on display throughout Odysseo's two and a half hour runtime. Over 70 horses from 14 different breeds, hailing from seven different countries, race, gallop, prance and jump around the massive stage inside the White Big Top. Accompanied by over 40 two-legged cast members (including acrobats, aerialists, riders, dancers and musicians) these horses are part of elaborate and breathtaking spectacles that would seem impossible if you were not there to witness them taking place.
The show moves between displays of equestrian prowess and dazzling acrobatic stunts, sometimes combining the two into a stunning whirlwind of movement between horse, rider, and acrobat. These elements of the show throw the crowd into a frenzy as the stage is filled with a masterfully choreographed spectacle that is almost overwhelming. Quieter, slower moments fill the space between these crescendos in the show. These sequences showcase aerialists flying high above the stage or dancers entangled and intertwined into seemingly impossible positions. While not as intense or high-paced, these beautiful points in Odysseo still manage to completely captivate the audience.
It is obvious that both the horses and humans are enjoying every second of the performance, with the horses often playing it up for the audience and riders and acrobats high fiving one another after landing daring stunts successfully. The riders appreciate their steeds as much as the audience appreciates each great act. Visual cues – from simple pats on the side of their horse to a wide smile upon completing a difficult act – show the bond between horse and rider and it is these small details that help makes Odysseo that much more magical. When the audience sees the connection between the animals and their riders with their own eyes, the entire show becomes even tighter.
It is said that the supremely talented are born doing what they love. Olympic swimmers were born in the water. Professional figure skaters were born on the ice. Odysseo is proof that some people were just born on horseback.
Cavalia Odysseo runs until May 10 at the White Big Top at the Port Lands. Tickets range from $34.50 to $264.50 plus taxes. Special pricing is available for groups, children, juniors, and seniors. Visit www.cavalia.net for details.