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MSQ Review: Cavalia Odysseo
And the prancing ponies go round and round
The last time Cavalia came to Burbank, getting into (and I presume out of) the facility was so tedious that I didn’t make it to the performance. They’ve resolved out those parking snafus and I finally made it – two year later.
Odysseo is the name of the new show. It is a stunning combination of amazing equestrian work and feats of human strength that may convince you that no amount of the time at the gym is going to give you that kind of body. Then there are the horses.
I’m not a fan of animals being trained for our entertainment. You’re unlikely to find me at Sea World, the circus, or even the zoo. So I admit to some trepidation about watching these beautiful horses being choreographed for a two-hour show. The horses in Odysseo are gorgeous. My favorite moments in the show were those in which they appeared to run “wild” across the vast stage. They’ve been trained to know where to go and when, but it conveys the sense of simulated freedom as in part of Les Voyageurs. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to see them in the wild doing the same thing.
Dressage is certainly a part of this show and it is elegantly done here. There are some traditional acts such as a rider standing on top of two horses and going around the space. You can also see some classic movie western routines where riders jump on and off the horses while in motion and maintaining a hold of the saddle.
There are also Cirque du Soleil type displays of upper body strength and acrobatics. Carosello involves a merry-go-round with fake horses, rotating platforms with men and women climbing up and down the entire contraption as it rotates. Tempeste has acrobats using multiple rings suspended overhead to contort their bodies alone and in pairs to amazing effect. The most graceful incorporation of horses and acrobats comes in Les Anges in which women are suspended with large pieces of fabric and are rotated by men taking hold of the fabric while riding horses. As the horses rotate, so does the device to which these women are attached. My favorite group was Appel d’Afrique who exhibited total charm in their combination of music and gymnastics.
The most dazzling part of Odysseo is Nomades, where equestrians of both sexes perform daring tricks as horses run around a circle: riding on their backs, suspended on the side of the animals, moving from atop the horse around its underbelly and back on top in one breathtaking moment. At other times the horses were going so fast directly downstage with riders doing stunts that I was concerned about the safety of the riders and the horses. (At least there’s an Ikea across the street should something horrible happen.) Odysseo doesn’t change my mind about trained animals, but at times it is remarkable.