An utopian fantasy with beautiful Stallions
Cavalia’s “Odysseo,” playing through January 10th in the big top next to AT&T Park in San Francisco. Cirque du Soleil inspired with live horses is the inspiration of Artistic Director Normand Latourelle who spent five years with Cirque du Soleil in the 1980’s. He has created a dream world for these beautiful animals. The $30 million production features 65 horses of varying breeds and 46 performers on the largest stage on record covering about 17,500 square feet that includes a magically appearing lake with 52,800 gallons of water. The space is surrounded by an Imax-style screen and a vast cyclorama hillside that is breathtaking. The "Cavalia" creative company out did themselves with this expansive look with "Odysseo."
Every positive adjective about this event has been used, I can support what others have written. The horses steal your heart, and to see each of them show their own unique personalities only proves the “fighting spirit” of working with these beautiful animals. The horses are the super stars of this performance and easily are worth the cost of the ticket price of this experience. The space can be vast and look endless, yet I was still drawn to how intimate, at times, the moments with the horses were. In one of the stallion ballets a cluster of horses are circling the ring when one breaks away from the team showing the independence of these magnificent animals even in such a rehearsed environment. The power from these impressive animals is the heart of “Odysseo” magic.
The four legged cast of “Odysseo,” includes 16 stallions and 49 geldings. Equestrian choreographer, Benjamin Aillaud and his team spend four to six years training the horses who enter the stage unconstrained, free of bit and saddle. They wander the hillside and then break into a run.Then a woman appears and these powerful animals instantly join her. This is where the magic comes in, they follow her lead with very little instruction. They tower over her, yet they are very gentle with her. She walks and runs among these beautiful and proud horses.
The horses are the rock stars but they are only one element of the event. “Odysseo's" big top tent, is visible from the Bay Bridge and from any high point in San Francisco. The big white top is 125 feet tall, it spans 47,000 square feet. The rear screen, set up for stunning images by Geodezik, creates the impression of looming plains, rolling hills, water cascades and vast space. A life size carousel tucked up in the big top, lowers to provide a new setting for the large cast of skilled acrobats and aerialists. Director Wayne Fowke's vision is impeccable, and does not end with the beautiful visual backdrops. During the second act the performance space fills with water to form a shallow lake for the beauties to prance in with joy.
The “Odessey” human cast includes brilliant acrobats and dancers from Guinea who specialize in back flips. They flip run and jump across the stage in a calligraphic line of ballet chaos. The music is vibrant and the singing is exotic. The young men from Guinea also perform a lively drum jam session. The riders show off their splendor as they ride at full speed and perform rodeo type tricks, flipping under and over, and standing on the stallions. The cast also includes aerialists, dancers, musicians and singers.
The highlight of the show for me is the demonstration and rapport between the horses and the humans. In two enthralling numbers, Elise Verdoncq keeps in absolute control of her team with nothing more than gentle words and pats, a very touching moment. The climactic second act, the horses gallop past the cheering audience splashing water into the front rows, this is a mesmerizing parade of power and precision. The evening will bring you to tears and it is the best way to spend a holiday evening in San Francisco.
Created by Artistic Director Normand Latourelle
Through Jan. 10th, 2016
At The Big Top next to AT&T Park
AT&T Park – 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107
Tickets range from $44.50 – $264.50
For tickets and more information, please call (866) 999-8111 or click here > www.cavalia.net