Odysseo by Cavalia – A Review by John Strange

2015-01-27 - Odysseo by Cavalia Sneak Media Preview 0929
Odysseo by Cavalia
John Strange
Artistic Direction: Normand Latourelle
Direction: Wayne Fowkes
Equestrian Direction and Choreography: Benjamin Aillaud
Choreography: Darren Charles & Alain Gauthier
Dallas Show Dates and Times:
    January 28th – February 22nd
        Tues-Sat: 8pm
            Sat-Sun: 2pm
Ticket Prices: $29.50 – 149.50
Run Time: 2 hour 30 minutes (20-30 minute intermission)
Website: http://cavalia.net/en/odysseo/
Odysseo is performed beneath an enormous white tent, billed as the largest touring tent in the world, erected at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.  This tent is the temporary home in each city to the amazing actors of the show, some with two legs and some with four.  The stage is extremely interesting.  It has a large flat open area where the acrobats and other performer can perform complicated routines.  It also allows to horses space to perform jumps and other routines.  It is covered in what appears to be sand or saw dust.
Behind this area is a long wide slope covered in what appears to be grass.  It is rises some three stories high.  The total footage of the stage is 17,000 square feet and is built using about 10,000 tons or rock, earth and sand.  Using a huge digital screen behind this allows the show to alter the scenery between the routines and to give the illusion of movement during them.  There is also a screen made to look like a thin strand of trees that is used to cut off the view of the slope at the beginning of the show.
The highlight of this show is the grace of the performers.  There are 63 horses representing 11 breeds from around the world.  The horse breeds include Appaloosas, Arabians, Quarter Horses Holsteiners, and Lipizzans.  The human cast of 47 performers is a talented group of acrobats, aerialists, riders, dancers, and musicians.
The music and Claudia Paganelli are a subtle counterpoint to the acts.  The music is beautiful and Ms. Paganelli is marvelous.  I can say absolutely that this show has no weak points.  Every routine, every act is planned to add to and work with the routine before it.  The show flows from human act to equine without interruptions with the exception of the intermission.
This show is a blend of graceful dance and acrobatic routines interspersed with different horse-centric acts that include trick riding, jumping, and one very amazing routine where the trainer (Elise Verdoncq) leads six horses through a routine that is a showcase of the intelligence of the Arabians.  Gus, Sylver, Frosty, Nezma, Choice, and Octanium are the white Arabians in this routine called LA SÉDENTAIRE.  Their rapport with Elise is wonderful.
The acrobats in the show include a group the program refers to as Stilters.  These gentlemen perform while wearing what looks like the legs often given to runners who have had their legs amputated.  These act like springs to enhance the acrobats’ ability to bound across the stage while performing flips and other feats.
The dancers and aerialists are a great counterpoint to the horse routines.  The horses, perhaps the main reason we all are in the audience, are worth every penny of the ticket price.  Their grace and strength are highlighted in the routines designed by Equestrian Director and Choreographer, Benjamin Aillaud.  My favorite routine was called LES VOYAGEURS which starts out with Elise Verdoncq on a magnificent Lusitano stallion named Omerio.  They start out at the top of the sloped stage in silhouette and then slowly walk down the slope as the lights begin to come up.  The front section of stage is flooded with 80,000 gallons of water during the early part of the act.  By the time the pair reaches the bottom of the slope there is several inches of water.  The water adds an interesting element to the act.  The splashes as the horse’s hooves strike the water look great.  Then a beautiful group of additional riders join the act. 
Find the time to see this amazing show.  As Texans we love horses.  This show brings us horses in an environment that thrills the kids and delights the adults. I cannot wait to go again.  I think each time I go I’ll see some new detail that will surprise me.  Who can ask for more?
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To see other images taken at the special media preview for the show, click here: http://seligimages.com/p613678746
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