The Liberty Side of Cavalia Odysseo

Alex and I decided to make the trip across the water to see the equine extravaganza, Cavalia – Oddysseo, in Vancouver.  We walked on a morning ferry and then took a bus to the olympic village in the city.  The air in the crowd was electric as the opening act began.  The music, background screen, lighting and stage are gorgeous, but the horses put on the real show.  As the horses were let loose into the arena the excitement in the crowd rose.

I knew that the horses would be performing all manner of feats, but in the opening act I was simply enjoying the beauty and simplicity of horses rolling in the sand, sniffing, interacting and grooming each other.  I was nearly moved to tears by the energy in the stadium and the spectacle of horses BEING horses.  It was intriguing to me knowing that no two Cavalia shows could ever be identical, because the horses are truly left alone at liberty during certain acts to roll and play to live music with spectacular lighting and backdrops.


Before I get too deep into my Cavlia experience I would like to announce that I’ve created a new Facebook Group called “Liberty Horse Lovers.”  It’s a platform where YOU can post, we can all share ideas, exercises, our horse pictures,  and expand our liberty awareness.  I hope to see you there!

Back to Cavlia:  There was an uprush of energy and the human performers and horses kicked it into high gear with intricate movements, acrobatics and memorable performances.  My favourite act was (no surprises here) the big liberty show.  At one point there were twenty eight horses at liberty interacting with their trainers in groups of four, carrying out complex choreography.  

The coolest part to me was when a couple of the horses decided that they weren’t interested in participating in the pre-conceived choreography and were just going to do their own thing.  One large grey horse took off like a shot and was clearly having a blast galloping around, weaving through the other horses, taking off up the hill (yes there was a hill) and bucking.  He dashed through the other horses repeatedly.   Aside from pinning their ears and thrashing their tails at him for disturbing their performance they carried on like he wasn’t there.

I was extremely impressed that:

A)  The horses knew they could take off and do their own thing

B)  That the horses were so well trained with good relationships with their handlers that they chose to go on with the planned performance and ignore the antics of the independent horse.

C) That the human performers were so very on the ball and in tune with their horses.  I could see their subtle body language and cues which were required to lead such a large and boisterous group.

Alex and I did notice that one of the two equine rebels disappeared at some point without us noticing.  I can only assume he was removed from the stage with a horse sized cane.   Eventually the remaining grey who was flying around with complete glee was also brought back into his team and a string was thrown about his neck to keep his behaviour under wraps for the rest of the display.

I truly enjoyed the Cavalia spectacle and would recommend it to anyone who loves Cirque Du Soleil or horses!

Have you seen a Cavalia show?  What did you think?





Comments 4

  1. That sounds absolutely lovely Heather! I wish I could’ve been there. I’m happy that you and Alex got to enjoy this experience. After people have read your description they’ll be lining up to see the Cavalia horses in all their splendor.

  2. I saw Cavalia last year because an absolute angel of a woman bought loads of tickets and gave them away on the local Craigslist. I saw it a few years earlier when a date took me. This year I’m buying tickets to take my sister- paying it forward. Each time is different but it’s always magical. There is a live orchestra and a singer to be glimpsed every now and then behind a backdrop. There are gymnasts, stunt riders, aerial ballet , a pool of water that appears for awhile and drains away, amazing stagecraft of light, color and backdrops. Last year a wall of water showered down from the heights to create the pool and an image of a white horse in motion was projected on this shimmering curtain of water with beautiful music. Then horses at liberty, alone without humans , run and splash through the pool. You can’t help but be existing in the moment just like horses. Even people who know little about horses will find the experience enchanting and surprising. It will change the idea of what is possible in a human/animal relationship. It’s unfortunate that tickets are so high because an event like this is so inspiring it can change lives. When I was a little girl, my father took us to see the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden– and the dream of a horse began.
    For those who can’t go, there are several videos of the performances on youtube that give you an idea of it.

  3. I’ve seen Cavalia (the original) twice now and I’ll see Odysseo in Calgary in May. The first time I saw Cavalia in Edmonton, there was a beautiful woman with long, platinum hair who guided between eight and 12 white horses (Andalusians, I think) with very few movements on her part. They went through complex patterns and she used subtle, simple body language to direct them. The second time I saw Cavalia in Edmonton, this act was absent and I was told it’s now a part of Odysseo… but I noticed you didn’t mention her act. I sincerely hope I’ll get to see her act in May. It was the finale and most of the audience was in tears.

    1. Post

      You will see this act in Odysseo. She shows up a couple of times with her crew in the show and it’s very impressive to watch the horses listening to her and each other as they go through their movements.

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