You don’t have to be a horse lover to love Cavalia, but it helps. Never has there been a show that so unironically captures the special feelings that horses can inspire in those of us who are drawn to them. The first Cavalia was unlike any “horse show” ever created- it’s not a circus, though it’s presented under the world’s biggest big top, and it’s not a pageant, though the sets and costumes are marvelous, and it’s not a play, because there’s no storyline to speak of. And their second show, Odysseo, is more spectacular, more ineffable, just more, than the first…
If it sounds like I’ve lost my critical faculties, it’s because there’s really no way to take your distance from the Cavalia spectacle—once you step away, it starts to fall apart. The good news, however, is that you’ll be so drawn into Odysséo’s intensely hypnotic spectacle that you’ll have little opportunity, or desire, for rational thought.
Odysseo, like the first Cavalia, delves into the mystical nature of the relationship between humans and horses, and will leave horse-lovers and others alike breathless with wonder. As it stands, I had seen the first Cavalia upwards of three times, and, Odysseo is an elaboration of the formula that worked so well: An intensely lyrical elaboration of the beauty of the equine form and spirit, and the incredible, gentle ability of the trainers. Some numbers are acrobatic and almost Cirque du Soleil-ish, while others show the horses moving in patterned choreographies reminiscent of a Busby Berkely musical.
Odysséo is, to my recollection, heavier on the dressage elements than the first show (though this is nothing like your typical competitive horse show), and they give more stage time to the mystical art of the horse whisperers, who work with their team of 69 horses to create tableaux of such innocent, pre-industrial pastoral peacefulness that I wanted it to transcend the time-and-space limitations of the number. And there’s plenty of time to drink in what is truly the best thing about horses—their splendid unrestrained gallop.
The second half, especially, takes this horse show to another level—the scene opens with dawning light on 30-odd sleeping horses curled up with their trainers on an African steppe, the sheer gorgeousness of it is almost too much. And the much talked-about finale, which features a lake (yes it does) and two dozen dreamy white stallions galloping through silvery moonlit water, is better than a dream.
Cavalia presents Odysseo, until October 30, 2011