‘Odysseo’: It All Comes Together

Candace Wade reports from the final press event and the show itself.

Elise Verdoncq on horseback. Photo by Candace Wade.

Members of the press were asked to sum up Odysseo in three words. Sexy — Enchanting – Transporting — I narrowed my abundant impressions to those three.

The Tuesday “Press Preview” was lively with toddlers, strollers and well, people-people. Cirque du Soliel/Cavalia/Odysseo creator Normand Latourelle stated: “The neighbors have seen the tent and all the activity, so we wanted to invite them in to see the horses and get a taste of some of the sequences.” That welcoming attitude was what I felt through my entire Odysseo Nashville journey.

I spoke with two of the young locals hired to usher and assist with crowds. They expressed the prevailing credo that I experienced seeing the performance and speaking with the artists. Travin Dennis and Lacresha Osborn agreed: “I didn’t know about horses, but I can see the bond and trust between the riders and the horses.” Aerialists Julie Panus and Samuel Alvarez echoed the belief.

Julie Panus, aerialist, joined in 2013.  

How did you come to OdysseO?

“I was a gymnast in Los Angeles. Odysseo came to town. I was determined to audition and get hired when, by luck, the creative team reached out to my studio.”

How do the aerial performers and the horse riders work together? 

“We learn to trust the riders.  We depend on each other.” (After seeing one of the sequences where the aerialists are tethered to the rider with yards of gossamer, I was struck with the trust that the aerial performer must have to believe the horse and rider aren’t going to sling-shot her into the rafters.)

Julie, tell me about your relationship with the horses. 

“I learned to perform the Liberty sequence. I work with an Arabian named Perle. I like it because of the problem solving. The horse will test you. It’s a puzzle to figure out a new way each time to keep the horse interested and with me.”

The Carosello sequence. Photo by Candace Wade

Samuel Alvarez, aerialist and coach, joined in 2011.

How did you get here? 

“I joined the organization after working in Texas as a gymnast and as a performer in a circus.”

Sam, tell me about working with the horses and riders from an aerialist point of view. 

“Respect for the years learning each discipline. Their partnership is built on respect. We aerialist build the same kind of partnership and respect with the horses and riders.”

The difference for you between the original Cavalia and Odysseo.

“Intimacy. Cavalia was smaller (a little more simple). Odysseo is a massive playground. When you are up there you look back to the last row and think ‘How do I connect with them?’ We have to make it intimate (in a big space).”

Why are you here? 

“I’m in love with movement. I love humans moving and now moving with horses. There is a conversation with the movement among the aerialists, gymnasts, riders and horses. That conversation includes the audience – way to the back row. I love the conversations with nothing in the way.”

Gymnasts and riders. Photo by Candace Wade.

I attended the opening night on Wednesday. The movement and conversation of which Sam spoke includes the stage craft and musical magic of the sequences. The audience was embraced and transported to wonder-filled worlds of birds and comets and carousels and waterfalls and human bodies rocketing and tumbling across the land, matching jump for jump with horses, elevated by the heartbeat drums and gallop of violins only to surrender to the siren-song voice of Valentina Spreca. Odysseo is a brief journey into the rhythms of humans and horses together and alone, in motion and at rest, where sometimes a horse just being a horse speaks the loudest.

My personal Odysseo odyssey is almost over. I must thank Odysseo’s Eric Paquette and Laure Warda for their professional and generous efforts to help me do my job. Thank you to groom Eduardo whose eyes sparked with recognition when he saw me at the third and fourth event. His smile elevated me from just another of the thousands of faceless, eager nuisances to a welcome (though fleeting) part of the team. These people are a small sample of the quality of the Odysseo team.

Odysseo has extended the run to 9/17. Tickets are available for the added week.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *