The Art Form of Odysseo

BY DEANNA KRISTENSEN

Cavalia, Cirque du Soleil, Normand Latourelle, Odysseo

Normand Latourelle greets riders of Odysseo during the premier media day in Calgary. Photo by Deanna Kristensen

He is one of the most influential artistic directors of the last century and he is Canada’s own, Normand Latourelle. Cavalia and Cirque du Soleil fans, recall Latourelle’s unmistakable ability to present a show that not only wows an audience, but also elevates people out of their seats onto a voyage to a magical place – that is simply out of this world.

If you are a horse enthusiast and you haven’t seen Latourelle’s latest production Odysseo, you really should. This peaceful and dazzling display of horses and performers on stage is a once in a lifetime experience.

“We call it Odysseo, because it is an odyssey where man and horse go to discover the most beautiful landscape in the world,” says Latourelle.

Latourelle’s passion to create an epic and magical experience for his audiences, is apparent in every element of Odysseo. As a result the show is not only a magnificent spectacle of wondrous acrobatics and horse training… but as Latourelle points out, “It’s a tribute to humanity.”

While a lot of Latourelle’s work involves flying acrobats, lights and dynamic stage elements – the horse he says was an unlikely element to his productions.

“When I started with Cirque Du Soleil, I had a lot of hesitation before going into a show with horses. I first brought a horse to the show 20-years-ago. I realized that people were paying more attention to the horse, than to the show.”

Without a costume or any type of high-tech gimmicks, a horse walking on stage horse is a showstopper – to any crowd.

For a lot of us horses are the magical piece to our own puzzle. Latourelle feels this is because a horse has been our partner throughout human history.

“A hundred years ago if you didn’t have a horse, you were nothing. If you look back for over 5,000 years it has been like that.“

“I think we have horses in our blood – not long ago, we couldn’t survive without horses. When you witness a horse, you feel like you understand them. They are very beautiful, just the way they are. You don’t need to put them in costume, they go on stage – they are just fabulous.”

Odysseo he says is a tribute or an ode to what the horse has helped man accomplish throughout the centuries. With a dramatic display of horsemanship and human fervour, Latourelle’s work ultimately allows people to connect with their joyful inner spirit.

“I think this is a moment of peace for the audience­. After this show, you are in another planet.”

In today’s age of urban sprawl, Latourelle senses everyone craves the connection to nature. For an urban audience, Latourelle senses that most people are intuitively connected with horses. They have been our partners and method of survival throughout our history and our kinship with their nature is clearly understood. Most people today are not aware of all the facets of a horse, however even urban audiences somehow instinctively sense that they can understand their personalities and vibes on stage.

Liberty work is a very popular style of training and Latourelle feels this style of horsemanship allows for each horses, to remain a horse.

“All the cues are done manually, at one point you have 30 horses on stage. They have no bit, no saddle, you can see that the horses are happy and the people are happy.”

Being happy can be a gift, comments Latourelle. Despite his massive shows involving countless hours of horse training and manpower, the message is contentment and joylessness for all living creatures. Latourelle’s symbolic use of the horse to convey this message in Odysseo, is energetically credible in every aspect of this epic production.

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