cavalia, odysseo, horses
Baseball, boats, and popcorn-that’s what you’ll find as you enter San Francisco’s AT&T Park on 3rd Street. Wander beyond the park, across the bridge to lot A and look for the White Big Top between the water and a parking lot. Here you’ll find 65 horses and 45 artists, the biggest touring show in the world, housed under a tent the size of two football fields. Artistic Director and Creator Normand Latourelle and his family take to the road to bring horse lovers and theater-goers the magic that is Cavalia. Odysseo is the second incarnation of the touring show that takes the audience on a journey in water with horses.

carousel, odysseo, horse, valentina spreca

Valentina Spreca on Carousel. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The two and a half hour Cavalia horse show is truly a labor of love for Latourelle and his extended family of equestrians, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians. Drawing from Africa, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine and the United States, the team is accompanied by 120 semi trailer trucks to bring Odysseo to life. It literally does take a village to enable 65+ horses and the cast to tour different cities around the world. A lot of logistics are involved to produce 250 horse shows per year in Canada, Mexico, the United States and Zhengzhou, China. A 17,500 square foot stage was created for Odysseo with a three-story tall hill giving a mountain peak experience to both horse and rider, as well as incorporating a screen behind the horses, projecting 3D images in slow motion. Forty thousand gallons of (recycled) water are used to create a lake for the second half of the show, while pole dancing is taken to a new level when a full-sized merry-go-round descends from the sky for the carousel part of the show.

“We transport the audience to different places on earth,” says Kim Huard-Carette, Cavalia Tour Publicist.

Ali Van Zee of San Francisco has enjoyed seeing the Cavalia show 28 times. Tonight’s San Francisco production was her third time this season. The fourth generation San Franciscan sold English riding apparel for many years. “They were kind enough to name a toy rocking horse for the original Cavalia after me – it’s currently touring in China.”

cavalia, odysseo, horsback, horses

The voyagers on horseback. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

“I’ve always loved horses. I was drawn to the magic. Cavalia introduced us to the relationship between humans and horses and Odysseo says lets run wild with it,” Ali Van Zee

The fast-paced show is made up of fourteen segments with a 30 minute intermission between part one and part two. The first half blends a mix of free ranging horse herds, roman riding, jumping, dressage and cossack riding, while the later introduces a call to Africa, angel aerialists using silks accompanied with riders on horses, a great adventure riding horseback and the finale with the huge lake. The angel riders with their fabulous flowing costumes and gorgeous horses were a site to behold, as were the angel acrobats in air, all accompanied by the angelic voice of Valentina Spreca.

angels, horses, equestrians, odyesseo

Angel riders photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

As an equestrian, I came to Cavalia to admire the beautiful horses, from Arabians to Quarter Horses, Lipizzans, Lusitanos and Spanish Purebreds, among others. As a fan on Cirque du Soleil on horseback, I was captivated by the Odysseo aerialists. In speaking with Julissa Panus an aerialist from Los Angeles who has been with the show for two and a half years, I learned what it’s like to work with horses. In addition to performing on the rotating pole on the carousel and as an acrobat in the angels scene, Panus walks with horses…who sometimes steal the focus.

“I was living in the San Fernando Valley when I got swooped up from the circus,” remembered Panus. “I do a liberty walk. It’s about the the trust with the horse and me giving verbal cues. “Sometimes they like to test you,” Panus said with a laugh. “It’s very important to keep the horse interested.”

Unlike horses, it’s not difficult to keep the audience attention’ during Odysseo. At times, I was torn between where to keep my focus. With acrobats flying through the air, horses leaping over poles and musicians calling to me from Africa, I felt like a happy camper on a pogo stick. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the show.

Linda Mooers an avid equestrian from Lafayette, California shared my enthusiasm and brought her entire family of five to join her. “I thought Odysseo was incredible. I felt like a kid again!” gushed Mooers.

elise verdoncq, horse, arabian, odysseo

Horse Whisperer Elise Verdoncq & Frosty. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip:
For a VIP Cavalia experience, purchase the Rendez-Vous VIP Package this includes center row seats, VIP pass, complimentary buffet before the show, complimentary wine, beer, soft drinks, dessert buffet, coffee and tea during intermission, behind-the-scenes stables tour after the horse show and Odysseo souvenir. Use code SOCIALSF to receive a 10% discount code on all evening shows.

For more insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and Instagram. You may also follow Cavalia on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Meerkat and Periscope.

horses, odyesseo, cavalia, horse show

Respect between horse and man. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

Odyesso review, videos and photos by Equestrian Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Cavalia for review purposes, however, all opinions are my own.