“Odysseo,” a huge spectacle with horses, humans and stunts from the creators of “Cavalia,” is onstage under the big white tent near AT&T Park in San Francisco. (Courtesy François Bergeron)

“Odysseo,” a huge spectacle with horses, humans and stunts from the creators of “Cavalia,” is onstage under the big white tent near AT&T Park in San Francisco. (Courtesy François Bergeron)

‘Odysseo’ showcases human and horse symbiosis

Pioneering American psychologist Helen Thompson wrote, “In riding a horse, we borrow freedom.” And in watching “Odysseo,” we experience the incredible freedom of spirit between horse and human.

The latest production from Cavalia, in The City under a big white tent near AT&T Park, seamlessly blends the beauty and vivacity of horses, dancers and acrobats in a magical world with a tone set by African drum beats and lilting melodies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Village Celebration act, when acrobats, stilt jumpers and riders join together, raucously showing off their physical prowess. The tribal African-inspired acrobats have high energy; there’s almost a duel between the shirtless men bouncing on metal spring stilts leaping over jumps and the magnificent horses, who power over their obstacles in a similar way.

This celebration of the horse comes from Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle, and elements of the ephemeral aura permeate this production. Gauzy costumes evoke a “Game of Thrones” feeling as baroque horses go through their paces.

The impressive set has a 17,500-square-foot stage, the back boasting a three-story hill that gives the impression of vastness in the intimate space under the tent. The panoramic background changes from Mongolian steppes to Monument Valley, from the African savanna to Nordic glaciers.

This is the third time French-Canadian impresario Latourelle has brought a Cavalia production to the Bay Area. The first in 2004 centered on two outstanding dressage riders who displayed the ballet equivalent of the horse world. Non-equestrians had difficulty grasping intricacies of the riding in a show that some thought repetitive.

The second time around in 2010, Latourelle phased out some of the more esoteric dressage elements. In “Odysseo,” there’s is a limited amount, making way for a more cohesive show blending athleticism of humans and equines.

In “The Angels,” stunning horses and graceful aerialists join forces for an exquisite dance.

Sometimes, the humans almost outshine the horses. A thrilling act with acrobats on rotating poles on a gigantic carousel is spellbinding. The only horses are the sculpted giant steeds on the stage-filling merry-go-round.

Still, for most of the 2 1/2-hour show (not including the 30-minute intermission), horses remain the focal point. Crowd favorites are the crazy Cossack riders doing daring stunts, and the trick riders. Elegant synchronized dances and horses working without bridles or riders “at liberty” also were a hit with the audience on Thursday’s opening night.

The performance concludes with high-level horsemanship, featuring a soloist equine dancing in place and performing stunning dressage moves pleasing to both horse enthusiasts and general audiences. The showstopper: 40,000 gallons of water flooding half of the stage, allowing the horses and acrobats to frolic together in a rousing finale.

My 10-year-old companion, who loves both horses and dance, was on the edge of her seat during much of the production. The show should not be missed by horse riders; it’s equally entertaining for those who prefer their horse experiences to be of the viewing type.

REVIEW
Odysseo
Where: White Tent, 1051 Third St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. most Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $44.50 to $154.50
Contact: (866) 999-8111, www.cavalia.net

acrobatAT&T ParkCavaliaCirque du Soleil ]dressagehorseNorman LatourelleOdysseotent

Just Posted

The Walgreens at 4645 Mission St. in The City is among those slated to close. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Walgreens says it’s closing five San Francisco stores due to crime. Where’s the data?

Walgreens should be transparent, enlighten San Francisco leaders about crime’s effect on business

While some pedestrians enjoy walking on the car-free Great Highway, others, who drive to work, want the road reopened full-time to vehicles. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Converting the Great Highway into a Great Walkway makes no sense

It’s helpful to take a detailed look at the environmental and transit effects

San Franciscans are likely to have the opportunity to vote in four different elections in 2022. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

Four young politicos were elected to city government on the Peninsula in 2020. From left: Redwood City Councilmember Michael Smith; South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman; Redwood City Councilmember Lissette Espinoza-Garnica; and East Palo Alto Councilmember Antonio Lopez.<ins> (Examiner illustration/Courtesy photos)</ins>
Progressive politicians rise to power on the Peninsula. Will redistricting reverse the trend?

‘There’s this wave of young people really trying to shake things up’

Most Read