Cavalia’s ‘Odysseo’: Ancient Values Brought to Life

April 15, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2015

TORONTO—Ancient cultures valued the idea of harmony between heaven and earth—the principle that man, earth, and all creatures are interconnected with each other and with heaven. It’s an idea that has permeated many civilizations and traditions that strove to achieve mutual respect and harmony with one’s surroundings.

But in today’s materialistic, polluted world—where the value of humanity and all that surrounds it often lies in its monetary value rather than its intrinsic value—this ideal is often forgotten.

Cavalia’s “Odysseo” is a performance that tries to break some of these boundaries, using state-of-the-art technology to bring to the forefront treasures of our world—breathtaking natural beauty, superior human artistry, the majesty of horses, and most of all the relationship between man and his world.

Cavalia was established in 2003 in Quebec by Normand Latourelle, one of Cirque de Soleil’s co-founders and key artistic members. It has since grown to perform shows in Canada, the United States, and several other countries. Its first major show, “Cavalia,” was followed by “Odysseo” in 2011, which is now performing at Toronto’s Port Lands until May 10 before heading to Montreal on June 17.

“Odysseo” distinguishes itself by lofty artistic ambitions—a huge tent the size of 12 Raptors basketball courts, a digital backdrop as large as three IMAX screens operating with 28 simultaneous projectors, and an ambitious set comprised of 10,000 tons of rock, earth, and sand that floods into a lake in the final act.

In its mission, Cavalia has set out to create a world of dreams and fantasies, intending to take the audience beyond the ordinary and the mundane. As such, the set functions not as mere decor, but rather as an active participant, taking the viewer on a journey of natural landscapes, from Easter Island to the Sahara desert, from fairy forests to Mongolian steppes.

And yet despite its high-tech values (including a full-sized merry go-round that descends from the ceiling), it is the blend of simplicity and majesty in the relationship between human and horse, and the relationship between the performers as they interact in dance, aerials, and acrobatics that is most powerful.

“Odysseo” features an international cast of horses (multiple breeds) and 45 artists decked in elegant costumes reflecting various cultural traditions.

The music, composed by Michael Cusson, is performed by live musicians who must keep in tune with the horses on stage, allowing the horses the freedom to play and sometimes act out on stage.

The lyrics of the songs performed by Claudia Paganelli are poetic, talking of life, the universe, and illusion.

Cavalia certainly presents a special show and one that resonates even more considering the values behind it: freedom, kindness, mutual respect, and harmony. It is worth seeing, and bringing the kids. There are many lessons a horse may teach a child, not the least being humility and respect for others.

And really, aren’t we all children in the end?

For more information about Cavalia, visit: