The magic and grandeur of Cavalia can be seen in a new awe-inspiring show magnifique: Odysseo, opening in Burbank February 27.
The natural equestrian choreography in each glorious scene will enthrall the savvy horse person, while non-horsey types will simply be mesmerized by the beauty of these incredible creatures performing at liberty within the magnificent backdrops.
Equine Superstars in White Finery
Cavalia's all new Odysseo show marries technical accomplishment and visual artistry with the talents of 61 majestic horses and 44 performing artists, riders, acrobats, and aerialists from around the world. Physically impressive, the horses are truly the stars of the show. Their partnership and trust with the performers, their work at liberty as a group, and their joyful performance is exquisite.
"It's simple, but you let the horse be a horse and that creates the magic."
Grand Cavalia III. Photo provided by Cavalia.
The fantasy unfolds as you enter the ten-story, four-spired, big top white tent, which spans 120,000 square feet and houses the world's only non-permanent sound stage. Within these tented walls an 80,000-gallon lake magically appears and disappears, as well as a forest and a merry-go-round. Stunning video backdrops the size of three IMAX screens transport you around the world to places such as Africa, the American Southwest, the Northern Lights, lush green fields, an ice cave and Easter Island.
Creating Equine Sensations
Cavalia founder and Artistic Director, Normand Latourelle, was a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil. He first appreciated the mesmerizing effect of horses on an audience when he incorporated one in a crowd scene. He noticed that all eyes were glued on the horse. From that point, he was on a quest to create a show where the horse was the inspiration and star – and that led to the development of Cavalia in 2001 and now Odysseo.
Normand Latourelle & Hade. Photo: JF Leblanc
The Equestrian Director and Choreographer Benjamin Aillaud, a native of France, is an accomplished equestrian and enjoyed a successful competitive driving and dressage career in Europe. As a three-time French National Champion (2005-2007) and Four In Hand Driving Reserve World Champion (2007), the true testament to Alillaud's equine connection is how he and his horses, at liberty, would go on a daily 45-minute run in nature. He'd simply open the barn doors and his horses would follow. Mr. Aillaud laughs at
the recollection, "And I never lost
Cavalia's philosophy of respect for the horse, their mindset and natural balance is evident during the playful performances. Each horse in Odysseo will train and perform almost all the disciplines in the production: trick riding, dressage, liberty work, even if they may not excel in each area. This purposeful diversity allows the horses to develop good muscles and sustained interest in their work. "We are not asking them to use the same muscles day after day until they are sore or to do the same thing over and over until they become sick of the routine," Aillaud emphasizes. "When [the horse] understands, he will do it with pleasure. He will be powerful and produce it many times without fights or problems."
The Travelers VI. Photo: François Bergeron
All of the training is done through natural horsemanship training techniques – leveraging horses' natural love for play. Although choreographed, each show is unique and the length will vary, depending on the horses. Even in the midst of a show they listen to the horses – following their lead, and desire,
Life Is Good
The wellbeing of all the equines is primary. As they move from city to city, the horses travel with and are stabled next to their equine buddies and have permanent groom assignments. There is a staff vet tech on duty in the 16,500 square foot stables 24/7. They also enjoy a 10-day vacation at a nearby farm before the start of a show in every new city.
Of the 56 Odysseo horses, approximately 51 of them are actively performing, and are only on stage approximately 10 minutes per show. They perform seven shows a week. Each horse has a double to stand in for him if he isn't feeling well. The horses never perform on medications. If a horse isn't able to perform, he is rested and a back-up horse takes his place in the production. Those no longer performing are retired to the Cavalia farm in Canada.
Oasis. Photo: Pascal Ratthé
Article provided by Odysseo. The performance opens in downtown Burbank on February 27. Tickets are on sale now at www.cavalia.net or by calling 1-866-999-8111. Go VIP with packages including stable tours, photo opportunities, dinner and the best seats in the house.