Stunning. Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Impossible. Out-of-this-world. Extraordinary.
Superlatives, by definition, are exaggerations, so please forgive me if I use words commonly considered hyperbole when writing about Odysseo – I assure you, I am not exaggerating. I knew I was in for something special. Nearly a decade ago I missed the opportunity to see Cavalia and made a vow to go should I ever have another chance. Fortunately, that opportunity came during the current run of Odysseo in Frisco, Texas, near Dallas.
Exiting the highway, the 125 foot tall White Big Top, covering 47,000 square feet, commands the skyline. It is a short walk or shuttle ride from the parking lot to the Big Top. For Rendez-Vous ticket holders, there is cocktail hour followed by dinner in the Rendez-vous tent, center stage seating, desserts and beverages at intermission, a gift from the boutique and a stable tour after the show. Within the enormous White Big Top are 2000 comfortable seats with great visibility of the stage. And that stage! It spans 35,000 square feet which is covered in 6,000 tons of dirt, stone and carefully selected sand mixed with fiber to ensure healthy footing for the 63 equine and 46 human performers. The original score is played and sung live, every performance. Musicians, do I hear hallelujah? The set is as technically ambitious as it is beautiful. The technical challenges of Odysseo would be difficult in any venue, much less a temporary one, and the design and crew delivered. What this company pulls off, with beauty, is simply amazing.
With a backdrop and lighting as mercurial as our beloved Texas weather, the scenes and the moods shift to suit the performance. The movement of the backdrop creates a sense of expanding space, adding to the overall experience. At times the performance and the energy is calm. peaceful and playful, focusing on the connection between the horses and humans. At others, it is daring and frenetic, pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible and, to say the least, tosses caution straight into the wind and tells it to get lost. At these times, the degree of mutual trust between horse and human is astonishing and deeply moving. The human artists perform feats that literally put their lives in the hands (or hooves) of their equine partners. Oh, to create that in our world at large!
In live performances in general, and particularly in one like Odysseo, with seemingly infinite possibilities for things to go wrong, sometimes things do go off course. It was refreshing and reassuring to see that when this happened, calm and patience prevailed. In one of the liberty scenes, horses are free to move about the stage with their human partners in a bit of improvisation or, as in this case, not. When one horse disconnected from the human and went seeking some equine socialization, the human simply shifted gears, reconnected with the horse and continued on, no big deal. Another great lesson for the rest of us. Similarly, one performer came off his horse in one of the more dizzying stunts, jumped up, gave a wide armed “tahdah,” ran backstage and came right back out on his horse and performed the stunt without a hitch. More life lessons…
During intermission, where, as Rendez-vous guests, we had delicious desserts and beverages, I asked others what they thought about Odysseo. Unanimously, people said it was amazing, they would definitely encourage friends and family to come (in fact, some had already made calls) and that the show was good value. All the staff were friendly and helpful. There is limited mobility access. The tents were warm and comfortable and did not feel at all like tents. The restrooms are plentiful and clean. Refreshments are available for purchase in the Big Top. If you have Rendez-vous tickets, stick around for the post show stable tour where you can meet the performers and take some pictures. Whatever you do, if you have ever considered going to a performance of a Cavalia production, go. Now.
Review by Stephanie Camfield
Find out more at http://cavalia.net/en