Two years ago, “Cavalia” came to town for a run of sold-out shows at King County’s Marymoor Park just between Bellevue and Redmond.
Based on this success, creators decided they should make the area one of the first tour stops for the company’s second show, “Odysseo.”
“We knew we had to come back here,” said Duncan Fisher, vice president of operations for the show.
Although the show features equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects like “Cavalia,” creator Normand Latourelle said that is where the similarities end. He said even if people have seen “Cavalia,” they will still enjoy “Odysseo” because it is so different.
“It’s a different world,” he said. “It’s totally different in every aspect of it.”
The production’s set is twice the size of “Cavalia” and follows a journey with horses and humans as they travel all around the world. Latourelle said the show’s settings range from a desert to an ice world to a forest. One of the main highlights of “Odysseo” is the finale in which the set becomes flooded to become a lake containing 80,000 gallons of water.
“We have pushed the limits of what could be achieved in a touring show,” Latourelle said.
“Odysseo” features 66 horses. Artistic director and choreographer Darren Charles, who rode a bit when he was a child, noted “that was one horse,” adding it took some getting used to being in close proximity of the animals on a regular basis.
“I was surrounded by them,” said Charles, who has been with the show since it began about three years ago. “You’re sort of blown away by the power of them.”
He added that at “Odysseo,” it is not uncommon to be backstage and see a horse or two just walking by, “whereas in the real world, that’s not normal.”
A show for everyone
In addition to the 66 horses, “Odysseo” features about 50 artists.
Among them is rider Dorian Escalon, who has also been with the show since the beginning and was part of the creative team. As a rider, Escalon said it is important for them to create a relationship with the horses, see how they react to the humans and other horses and make sure they are happy.
“The horses are not talking,” he said about the importance of paying close attention to them.
In addition to riders, “Odysseo” features artists like aerialist Andrea Legg, who work more indirectly with the horses.
“I do the rotating Chinese pole, aerial hoop and flying fabric,” she said, explaining that flying fabric act is powered by horses.
Before this, Legg said she had never worked with animals and she was in awe of the animals when she first joined the show. She said one of her favorite parts of the show is a scene in which a single performer is on stage with a group of horses and is directing them using various calls and cues.
“There’s something about a human with a bunch of beautiful animals,” she said. “There’s something very stunning about that. You can see the relationship there that’s fostered every day.”
Although the horses play a large role in “Odysseo,” they are not the only stars of the show. Latourelle said there is something for horse lovers as well as those who are interested in the more theatrical side of the show.
“Whether you are 2 or 102 years old, you will enjoy the show,” Latourelle said. “This is the type of show that will touch everyone.”