Last week we were lucky enough to be invited to opening night of Cavalia Odysseo, taking place in that huge big-top white tent you've seen in Burbank. You've probably heard it referred to as "that horse show" but it's really much more – an uplifting, energetic, beautiful blend of theatrics, live music, acrobatics, dance – and yes, horses.
Lots of horses. Sixty-seven of them to be exact. Which is why I was a little alarmed when minutes before the show my 14-year-old says, "I hate horses," in that blasé, matter-of-fact way she usually says, "I need three dollars for donuts." We contemplated selling her ticket and leaving her with the popcorn vendor but there were people watching, so off to our seats we went.
It only took a few minutes to change her mind. It's easy to underestimate the effect live animals have on a couple of city girls, whose only animal contact is with our neurotic house cat. From the moment the horses appeared on stage, my girls were captivated. The interaction between the horses and the performers (while always gentle) is exciting and mesmerizing. It had equal parts of theatrics (the acrobats seemed to defy gravity) and an almost zen calm about it. For once my girls' eyes were filled with wonder instead of the reflection of their iPhones.
By intermission "I hate horses" had turned into "I want to work in a horse show." I'm not making this up – she would have signed up right there if they'd had any need for a 14-year-old rider who'd never ridden a horse before.
I should add here that part of the appeal for my 14 and 16-year-old daughters was their fascination with the majestic, muscular creatures performing before them. Yes, I'm talking about the numerous shirtless male riders who make up the cast of the show. While my husband and I were in awe of their riding skills and dexterity as they jumped, flipped and somersaulted off the horses racing across the stage, our girls were Tweeting things like "Hot guys on horses. #heaven." Either way, we were all extremely impressed with their talents.
In addition to the animal and acrobatic performances, the set itself is breathtaking. The 15,000 square-foot stage resembles a hilly landscape and a video backdrop (the size of three IMAX screens) changes to create various seasons and locations, from the African desert to the American Southwest. One of our favorite parts was the finale, where a lake suddenly appears – 80,000-gallons of water flood the stage in less than three minutes.
Another aspect of the show that we were so impressed with – and is often overlooked – was the live music. If you looked closely up and to the sides of the stage, you could see the musicians performing amongst the "trees" – an intriguing sight for my musical husband and kids.
My entire family whole-heartedly recommends this show for all ages. No love of horses is required, just an appreciation for a beautifully done and artistically produced spectacle that turned a 14-year-old horse hater into an enthusiastic equine admirer. Note to Cavalia producers: She'll be ready to work soon – she's already practicing some training moves on our cat.
Cavalia Odysseo is playing through March 24
777 N. Front St., Burbank
Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Call 1-866-999-8111 for tickets or
order online here.
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Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive four press tickets for my family to see Cavalia Odysseo. All opinions expressed are my own, except those of my 14-year-old daughter since, you know, we have no control over what teenagers think.
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