I have been riding horses for 27 years. And I haven’t got an ounce of the skill the riders have in Odysseo — Cavalia‘s newest show.
But this is more than a horse show. This is acrobatics, aerial silks, music and dance — part technological masterpiece, part visual wonder — all wrapped up in a magical phantasmagoria.
And yet, we need to talk about the horses. Because the horsemanship, dressage, jumping and trick riding is — in a word — spellbinding. Even if you’re not into horses, I guarantee you’ll be on the edge of your seat at times, hand-to-heart at others. I think I said “WOW!” no less than 68 times during the three-hour performance.
Despite being very excited to go, not least because it was a school night and he got to stay up far past bedtime, even I wasn’t prepared for The K Man’s reaction. Mind = blown doesn’t cover it. He was gobsmacked.
Between the 50 riders, acrobats, aerialists and musicians plus the most beautiful 65 horses you’ve ever seen, this is a spectacle worthy of your family’s time.
I don’t want to ruin too many of the show’s heart-stopping moments, but here are a few of our favourites:
“NO MORE WAR ON EARTH”
These guys were playing bongos, singing, dancing and doing some crazy flips and acrobatic pyramids throughout the performance. But one of the most powerful moments came when the audience was asked to participate and sing back a phrase (in what may have been an African language). Once the stage went dark, the screen repeated the words and provided the English translation: no more war on earth. Chills.
The double riders
To watch the stillness of their upper bodies, you’d never know these women were attached a foot apiece to a horse. Riding at a constant trot, if you looked hard enough under their flowing chiffon skirts, you could see legs moving like a hybrid shock-and-piston — often with one leg doing something completely different from the other to accommodate the two horses’ varied movements.
Having done aerial yoga a few times, it was fascinating to see aerial silks used with such ease — because I know how challenging it is to move fluidly when you’re all tied up in them! They made it look like they were dancing in mid-air. This section of the show was one of my favourites, with the horses creating the momentum and the dangling silks producing shapes and art and movement in a dazzling display of stunning athleticism.
It wasn’t so much the tricks themselves that were jaw-dropping; it was the speed at which the riders did these tricks that elicited ooohs and ahhhs from the audience. Standing on the saddle, going “around the world” and lying on the side of a saddle with one’s head dangerously close to the ground would be hard enough if the horse wasn’t moving. Accelerate that to a trot and it would be far scarier. Now pick up the pace into a speedy canter — and even a full-out gallop during some parts of the show — and these tricks don’t even look like they should be humanly possible.
Spoiler alert: there’s a water scene. I don’t want to reveal too much but when a dozen perfect Arabian horses splash through the stage, it’ll send goosebumps up and down your whole body.
Tickets for Odysseo by Cavalia
Odysseo is only here until July 16. Tickets start at $39.50 for kids and $49.50 for adults for matinee and evening performances. Look for The White Big Top (you can’t miss it), which is located adjacent to the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.