Odysseo by Cavalia gallops into Vancouver


As Surrey604’s resident automotive editor, I normally cover horses of a different nature, that is, those theoretical measures of engine power that are under the hood of a car.

But being a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil, I was thrilled to hear that Cavalia was coming back into Vancouver after a 2 year hiatus. I could not pass up the chance to write about this show.

At the special media preview, Cavalia mastermind Normand Latourelle mentioned that they usually wait for 3-5 years before returning a show back into town. But in 2011, Vancouverites responded so positively to the original Cavalia show that they sped up their timeline to return back into town.

In this new creation, Odysseo, Cavalia marries equestrian arts, acrobatics, stage arts, and high tech theatrical effects at never seen before levels. With the world’s largest touring big top (aka “The White Big Top”), the biggest stage, three IMAX-sized screens, the greatest number of horses at liberty, this $30+ million dollar setup pushes the limits of live entertainment.

You definitely don’t have to be a horse lover to appreciate the show, located at 299 West 1st Ave in Vancouver in Olympic Village.


Some fun facts about the White Big Top:

  • The White Big Top is 107 metres long by 73 metres wide.
  • The surface covered by the White Big Top is 9,910 square metres, the size of two NFL football fields.
  • The stage is made of 10,000 tons of stone, dirt, sand as well as 1,490 square metres of specialized carpet and pool liner to help build the basin.
  • An underground water system is built to flood 300,000 litres of water onto the stage for the finale. After the show, it takes 15 mins to drain the water.
  • Seating capacity is for 2,000 people.
  • 110 semi-trucks are required to move the colossal production from city to the next city.
  • 80 Cavalia’s Odysseo employees are required to set-up and tear down the show
  • Over 600 meals are served at their kitchen


In addition to the special media preview where we were allowed to take photos, I also had the pleasure of attending the show on opening night, My first time experience as a Cavalia Rendez-vous VIP ticket holder did not disappoint.

The Rendez-vous Experience

The Rendez-vous experience includes access to an exclusive tent where ticket holders enjoy dinner and an all-inclusive bar before the show, as well as desert and coffee during intermission. After the show, guests can take a photo with the artists, and enjoy a private tour of the stables.

If this is your first time attending a Cavalia show or if you’re a fan of horses, go for the full Rendez-vous experience. It’s definitely the icing on the cake and just adds that little bit of something extra to an already fantastic performance.


The Cast: Two and Four-legged stars of the show


There are 67 horses that represent 11 different breeds from around the world in Odysseo. All of the horses are male – stallions and geldings (males that have been neutered). The presence of mares would make things just that much more difficult as the males would always be fighting.

The horses come from 7 different countries with their average age being 10 years old (youngest at 5, oldest at 15).

Cavalia’s training methods ensure that the horses enjoy training and are excited to perform on stage. This is a show where deep-seated respect for the four-legged stars comes first, and you’ll see that first hand in the performances where their trainers pay amazingly close attention to the horses in order to ensure that patience, trust, and reward are delivered.

It’s truly a magical thing to see the age-old bond between human and horse come alive on stage.

As far as the two-legged stars of the show, there are 48 artists from 13 countries – acrobats, aerialists, riders, dancers, and musicians.

350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots are on hand, and some artists may have up to 7 different costumes with no more than 90 seconds for costume changes between numbers.

How did I like it compared to Cirque du Soleil?

Being a huge Cirque du Soleil shows (having seen 13 of them to date), it is easy to see why the large-scale multimedia performance that was delivered is often compared to Cirque du Soleil.

It was no surprise then, that Cavalia founder Normand Latourelle was one of the four original co-rounder of Cirque du Soleil.

For all intents and purposes, the Odysseo’s acrobatics, dancing, musicians were equally as impressive as Cirque’s.

But the focus on the show is on the grace, majesty, and power of the horses. Much like I sat in my seat mesmerized by the acrobats, I was equally awestruck by the sheer number of horses galloping on stage and executing perfectly choreographed movements without a visible trainer on stage.

The combination of acrobatic and equine acts, but more importantly the shared human-animal joy combined with the daredevil acts, is what sets this performance apart from any other.


Perhaps what was different was that each of Cirque du Soleil’s shows has a obvious storyline that is introduced and played throughout the show.

Odysseo was more of a voyage, a journey if you will, as the audience is taken through some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. Under the Big White Top, we were transported through the different seasons to parts of the world including the Mongolian steppes, the African savannah, the Nordic glaciers, and Easter Island.


The graphical and technical teams definitely earned their pay cheques with some of the most spectacular high definition images I’ve seen, projected by the 18 high definition projectors simultaneously.

This landscape projection, combined with sheer size of the 10,000 ton man-made hill, makes for one of the best entrances I have seen in a live performances. As the humans and horses crest the 10,000 ton hill over the horizon, I truly felt that they were coming from somewhere outside the tent. So close but yet so far. Truly dazzling.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the show comes at its finale where the stage fills with water seemingly appearing from nowhere, like a dry river bed in Africa suddenly being rejuvenated again due to a flash storm. This is something you have to see to appreciate, and worth the price of admission alone.


Odysseo is in Vancouver until January 12th (extended past its original date of Jan 5th) at the Olympic Village. You can purchase tickets at:

This is one show that you don’t want to miss before it gallops out of town!

Andrew Ling
Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as, since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all! When he’s not reading about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town.