What do you get when you combine live music, circus act-like acrobatics, and the majestic movements of several dozen horses?
Many people have drawn comparisons between Cavalia and Cirque du Soleil, but the two Quebec-based companies have no official relationship whatsoever. Yes, both production companies combine music, costumes and acrobatics, but Cavalia introduces our equine friends to the mix. You get to see horses running in formation, seemingly without any direction from a trainer, as well as trick riding, dressage, barrel racing, show jumping, and other disciplines.
This goes far beyond any conventional horseback riding that average citizens may enjoy at a ranch. Also, it’s no surprise that people see some Cirque in Cavalia, as creator Normand Latourelle was actually one of the four original co-founders of Cirque du Soleil in the late 1980s.
The Rendez-Vous Tent
The VIP Experience, available as an upgrade over regular show tickets, includes a full hot food buffet before the show. You enter through the Rendez-Vous tent to enjoy shrimp, chicken, pasta, beef skewers, rocket salad and more. There is also a basic open bar where you’ll find beer, wine, pop and juices. During the first intermission, we returned to the tent for the dessert buffet and some coffee.
Naturally, the gift shop is also a popular place inside the tent, offering a range of stuffed horses, plus t-shirts and other souvenirs. It’s certainly nice being able to relax with a casual meal before heading over to the other tent for the Odysseo show itself.
On with the Show
There are many great shows in Vancouver that you can catch throughout the year, but the Cavalia production is easily one of the most unique. While there is certainly a focus on the horses and what the trainers are able to do with them, getting them to run and stop in formation, there were also additional acrobatic and tumbling acts to break up the action.
Unsurprisingly, the trick riding is what impressed most people. You’d have riders standing upright on two horses, one foot on each saddle, for example. Other times, you’d find the riders hop off the saddle in mid-stride, only to flip their way back onto the saddle backwards. At one point, there was even a rider who managed to spin all the way around the underbelly, all while the horse was running in full gallop.
All said, including the 30-minute intermission, the show was nearly three hours in length.
Stable and Backstage Tour
After the show, we were invited backstage and into the stables where we could up close and personal with both the two-legged and four-legged performers. What’s interesting is that all of the horses in the production are male: 20 stallions and 47 geldings.
The horses come from all around the world and from a range of different backgrounds. The (human) performers also personally care for the horses, forging those strong bonds that are needed for better training. The horses themselves are also multidisciplinary, taking on different roles with each performance. They get bored too, after all.
Get 10% Off Your Tickets
Cavalia’s Odysseo plays under the big white top at Olympic Village in Vancouver until January 12. Check out their website for ticket information, as well as more information on the VIP experience. To save 10% on your tickets, use the coupon code LIBERTY online, on the phone or in person at the box office.
Odysseo will be traveling to Seattle toward the end of February, followed by Calgary in April and Edmonton in July. The original Cavalia show is currently in Perth, Australia and will be moving to Abu Dhabi in February.