THE BLOG

How Horses and Humans Can Create Rare Art That Connects Us

04/12/2015 12:57 EDT | Updated 06/11/2015 05:59 EDT

At a time where we as a planet are often said to be disconnected, it is once again art that brings us back to remember what is important.

We are a world filled with nature, humans, and animals. All of whom have a beating heart and magic the other can learn from.

But the pace we are on to achieve, to make it happen, and to survive disables many to actually stop and breathe. To take stock of the living things and energy around us that can bring us the very happiness we all so seek.

Do we need a reminder of this?

There is a once in a lifetime experience happening now, and it is Cavalia's larger-than-life production Odysseo.

Celebrating their 800th performance earlier this week, audiences are currently being wowed by a display of "horse human collective artistry" infused with jaw dropping special effects. Imagine 45 riders, acrobats, aerialists and musicians working in tandem with 70 horses in an environment that makes you forget where you are.

Reviews have been stellar, and one such four star review from the discerning Richard Ouzounian is here.

As such, the show has been extended for two weeks, now on stage in Toronto until May 10 before moving to Montreal on June 17.

We had the opportunity to sit down with two members of the show to get some insights on the evolution of the creative and how they do what they do. What follows are the thoughts of

Darren Charles (DC), Resident Artistic Director and Choreographer and Amanda Orlowski (AO), a Canadian Rider.

How is this version different from what we saw in 2012?

AO: The show is in constant evolution, so what you saw three years ago has changed quite a bit. When the production first came to Toronto in 2012, it was just after the creative process. Now it has been on tour for almost four years and has developed further. Many of the artists and horses have changed as well bringing new aspects to the show.

Is there actually a narrative story for audiences to follow?

AO: The story line is left to the audience's imagination. The show takes the viewer on a beautiful journey around the world with horses, to some of the most beautiful natural environments in this world. Accompanied by exquisite costumes and live music, it leaves room for the audience to create their own journey.

DC: We take the audience on a journey through different landscapes around the world and you see the evolution of building the relationship between horse and man.

There are 70 horses and 45 artists that make up the performers. How do you pair each horse with the performers?

AO: Each horse and each artist have their own personality. Horses and people are very similar in that way. In this environment where it is necessary to create a strong relationship between horse and rider, we spend a great deal of time getting to know each horse in order to match them with the most compatible rider.

What is the rehearsal process like?

AO: As riders we spend all day working with our horses. Most importantly to ensure they are strong and comfortable in their bodies by doing gymnastics and stretching. Secondly we have rehearsals of the specific acts: these are run-through sometimes with lights and music to expose the horses to what they will encounter on the stage. We want them to be as confident in us as we are in them.

DC: After a two-week break, rehearsal is taken very seriously. We have to get the horses and artists back in shape, so we train a lot, especially when we are introducing new horses in the show; we have to acclimatize them to the audience applause, show lights and music, and new surroundings.

It seems that the show's success is based on seconds. What happens if a performer is late on a quick change?

AO: Time management is a very important part of this business. Before the show begins, every artist knows exactly what cues and quick changes they have and will plan ahead to be on time. In the backstage we have a special area where the costumes are prepared for quick changes, as well as the amazing costume ladies to help us move faster.

DC: The beauty of having live music, we will always have a back-up or Plan B. If this was to happen, the artists are very quick to see a problem and improvise, if need be, and the backstage team is also there to ensure it does not happen.

Is the experience relevant to all ages?

AO: Yes I would say people of all ages and from all walks of life can appreciate the beauty of Odysseo.

In one sentence, why should people see this show?

AO: Odysseo is one of the most unique visual pleasures you will experience in your lifetime. It opens your mind to what humans and horses are capable of and puts beauty back in your life.

DC: It's a breath-taking extravaganza of horsemanship and daring acrobatics. Visually and technically, there is no other show on earth like it.

There are other experiences at the tents that can make this a full night. Tell us.

AO: The VIP Rendez-Vous experience is awesome. It includes pre-show dinner and drinks, desert at intermission, a gift bag and a post-show tour of the stables!

As mentioned, the show is on stage in Toronto until May 10 and Montreal follows after. Ticket info is here.