A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Cavalia’s Odysseo / Photo by François Bergeron

Everything about Cavalia’s Odysseo is big. The white big top by the 5 Freeway in Burbank is 10 stories high and about the size of a football field, with seating for 2,000 people. The show features a herd of 67 horses, representing 11 breeds, and a cast of 44 artists — acrobats, aerialists, riders, dancers and musicians — from 13 countries. A video backdrop the size of three IMAX screens transports audiences to the African desert, the Northern Lights, the American Southwest, rolling hills and lush forests. In the finale, 80,000 gallons of water slowly flood the 15,000-square-foot stage, creating a lake below a waterfall.

According to creator Normand Latourelle, also one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia’s Odysseo may well be the biggest touring show in the world. Yes, it’s big. But is the hype even bigger? Cavalia.net promises this “30 million dollar spectacular” is a “two-hour dream that will move the heart and touch the soul.” Does it deliver? Step into the white big top and you’ll discover that Cavalia’s Odysseo is indeed a dream.

Latourelle has described the show as an ode to horse and man, a combination of equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects focusing on how horse and man have explored the world together. The beauty and athleticism of both the animals and the artists are entrancing, and the creativity and theatrics are superb.

When the acrobats from West Africa take the stage, their powerful jumping, incredibly high and with fast repeated flips in the air, defies reality. Olympic gymnasts have nothing on these athletes. Two more acrobats with running blades, resembling horses or deer, take the leaps even higher.

The horses, jumping over low obstacles, seem almost overshadowed by their human counterparts. Their beauty and grace is more on spotlight than their strength, as in the water scene when a single horse and rider demonstrate classical dressage, and other times when horses trot, canter and gallop in dazzling formations.

In the trick-riding segment, horses race across the stage as riders hang upside-down and in all manner of death-defying poses, sometimes holding on with a single hand or foot and remounting on the other side of the stage. This is an adrenalin rush.

In another act, a rotating carousel descends from the ceiling for aerialists to perform an airy dance. The finale combines many of the human and horse feats in a watery crescendo.

In addition to the gorgeous visuals on the gigantic backdrop, the live music is a joy. Musicians perform bass, drums, guitar and violin in “treehouses” in enormous trees on each side of the audience, increasing the energy onstage with their thumping, driving rhythms, while a female singer provides ethereal vocals.

During the show, the audience is constantly oohing and aahing. It’s a dream from which they don’t want to wake.

—Julie Riggott, Culture Spot LA

Cavalia’s Odysseo runs Feb. 27 through April 14. Ticket prices range from $34.50-$159.50. Additionally the Rendez-Vous VIP package offers the best seats in the house, dinner prior to the show, an open bar, dessert at intermission, a photo opportunity with the artists and a tour of the Cavalia’s Odysseo stables. VIP packages range from $154.50-$269.50. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cavalia.net or by calling 1-866-999-8111. The Cavalia’s Odysseo White Big Top is located at 777 N. Front St. in Burbank. Get there early, as parking can take a little while.