Odysseo: full gallop gorgeous

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Toward the end of Odysseo, the new horse-and-human extravaganza from the creators of Cavalia, the massive stage is flooded with water to create a lake. Photo by François Bergeron. Below: Odysseo includes many examples of “liberty,” a trainer commanding horses with only vocal commands and body language. Photo by Lynne Glazer

If Bojack Horseman and Mr. Ed count, I can say I’m a horse person. I fell off the back of a running stallion as a child while visiting relatives on a farm in Idaho (that horse really wanted to get back to the stable), and I know people who love horses beyond all measure. But when it comes right down to it, I’m not a horse guy.

But I love to look at horses, especially horses in motion. Whether in a Western or on the Disneyland carousel, the equine form is a beautiful thing. The notion to combine that beauty with the artistry and acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil was an inspired one, and while the resulting show, Cavlia offered abundant delights, I still found myself a little numbed by the horses walking sideways and lying down – impressive things to horse people who know how difficult it is to master such skills, but dull for the likes of me who would rather see the beasts running really fast.

Well Cavalia creatore Normand Latourelle must have felt the same way. He has taken his original formula and, as they say, plussed it. His new horse and human show, Odysseo is big. No, it’s epic. I reviewed the San Francisco debut of the show for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s a sample:

“Odysseo,” for all its technical marvels, and there are many from the massive projection screen at the rear of the stage to the acrobatic gear that flies effortlessly in and out, comes down to the beauty of the animals. Some 40 horses appear in the show – in one scene alone the stage is filled with 32 horses – and they are beyond spectacular.
All the high-tech wonders can’t begin to compare to the primal beauty of the horses, and that seems to be the point.

Read the full review here.

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I also talked to Latourelle and other members of the Odysseo team for a feature in the Chronicle.

“In ‘Cavalia’ I tried to give the horses enough room to move,” Latourelle says. “I learned I could do better for them.”
For “Odysseo,” the idea was to create the kind of space you could only find in a place like Las Vegas but somehow take it on tour. So Latourelle and his creative team found a way to make the enormous big top work and remove the center columns that hampered views in “Cavalia.”
“A lot of what people loved about the first show was seeing the horses running free and the great relationship between horse and man,” Latourelle says. “It is the same with ‘Odysseo,’ but I wanted to push the limit of what could be done with horses. At one point in this show, we have 40 horses running free next to people, which is a fantastic, beautiful image. There are no whips, no reins. We call it liberty.”

Read the full story here.

Odysseo continues an extended run through Jan. 10 at AT&T Park, 1051 Third St., San Francisco. Tickets are $44.50-$264.50. Call 866-999-8111 or visit www.cavalia.net.

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