The Grammys just happened, the Oscars are coming up and let’s not forget the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. (Congrats to C.J. the German Shorthaired Pointer!) Since awards season is here I thought I’d spice things up and present my Odysseo review in the form of “best” categories!
If you missed the original show Cavalia, don’t worry. You can enjoy it from the comfort of your home by watching the Cavalia DVD. If reading is more your thing check out this book by former Cavalia performers.
Classiest Tent Award
You can’t miss the destination because of the grand White Big Top which punctuates the skyline. It reminded me of a much larger version of the tent we used for our wedding reception. And thank goodness, this is a tent that requires no camping. Win!
Act Most Resembling a Warm Up Arena at a Horse Show
This award goes to the scene “Village Celebration” in which riders, stilters, and acrobats take turns jumping fences. The only difference is these riders look out for each other and have the timing down so as to not have a collision. And their clothes are snazzier. And they don’t wear helmets. Oh, and they’re jumping alongside tumblers and guys on stilts. Other than that it’s pretty much a warm up arena.
Best Cast Member Audition Story
This one is a tie. I got to speak briefly with Elise Verdoncq, the trainer who performs the liberty routine called “Freedom” in which 6-9 gray Arabian geldings frolic about. She said she was studying for the French bar exam and heard about the audition and thought, “That sounds like fun for a year and I could learn English.” Six years later she is a major part of the show and the rider who performs the solo in the lake aboard the dreamy Lusitano stallion Omerio.
The other audition story (I heard this one second-hand) was that a man who was working on the show in Canada–I believe putting up the tent–said he wanted to audition. He did and showed off his mad acrobatics skillz.
The producers asked if he had any other friends who could do what he did. He said yes and a plane to ride to Guinea later and of troupe of Guinean acrobats was recruited. They’re a key part of the production’s opening number as the tumble and twirl. (I kept wondering how they don’t get dizzy.)
World’s Largest Touring Production Award
Some 200 people are involved in the production and logistics of Odysseo. And there are 65 horses and an international cast of 48 artists who create the magical journey from African savannahs to Nordic glaciers to the Sahara. I found it interesting that four of the cast members were Californian.
Don’t Ever Try This At Home If You Want to Live Award
This prize goes to every single act in the trick riding segment called “Nomads.” The girls who jumped into the temporary round pen and dropped scarves and then casually picked them up while upside down hanging off a galloping horse were amazing.
Then the woman who did a backbend across the saddle took her already intense act up a notch when she let go and both hands were straight out to the sides so she became a back bending letter T. There were several people, men and women who jumped out of the saddle and then back into the saddle and flipped around. One guy landed backwards on the horse’s neck. These were not big draft horses making a large circle from a collected canter, mind you. All of the tricks were done at a gallop in a small circle (I’m guessing it was a 20 meter circle but I’m really bad estimating dimensions).
I almost cried during the media preview when the man who passes under–yes, you read that right, passes under–his galloping horse seemed to take a half second longer to get up and around to the other side of the horse. Not that I know how long diving under your galloping horse and coming up the other side of his belly should take, but I was completely stressed out watching this act. But he made it back to the saddle completely unscathed.
Most Horses Lying Down in a Herd with Humans Draped Across Them
After the 30-minute intermission, the curtain opens and there are about 20 horses chillaxing on the stage as if it were their mid-day nap time. One by one the handler for each gets their respective animal up and then before you know it, sans halter or leadrope, the horses are walking around the stage in a pattern joining up with a partner so there are pairs of horses milling about.
Near the end of this scene each pair has joined another pair and there is one handler per group of four color-matched horses (bays with bays) and there are now 32 horses on stage. They perform in varying formations. It’s at this point you might wonder, “How do they do that? I can’t even walk my two large dogs together on leashes without chaos!” and begin to feel completely inept at life.
Horse Husband’s Favorite Act
The carousel number titled Carosello was Mark’s favorite. In this segment there are no real horses, just the ones on the carousel (except for at the very beginning–to drop off the aerialists). There are several men and women hanging off the poles of the carousel doing splits in the air and maintaining poses that I could not attempt on solid ground. “I loved the acrobatics. . . they [acrobats] were so graceful and so athletic, there was a beauty to it,” said Horse Husband.
Your Mother Would Not Approve of You Doing This Award
There is also a tie for this division. This honor goes out first to the acrobats who have donned high-tech looking stilts and bounce around on them and do somersault flips over oxers. The other awardee is the troupe of Roman riders dressed as white fairies who gracefully cruise around while standing with their left feet on one horse and their right feet on another horse!
Best Background Scenery
This award goes out to the number “Travellers” which tricks your eyes into thinking there’s a real blue sky with white puffy clouds and verdant hills. The horses’ hindquarters are draped by the riders’ flowing robes in vibrant hues of reds and orange and the team trots and canters around flowing in and out of formation.
Note: My horse husband thought the gift shop items were reasonably priced.
You can probably tell I thoroughly enjoyed this show and I know a bunch of you have too. Do you have any award categories you’d like to introduce? Do you have any riding tricks you’d like to perform for an audience one day?