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'Odysseo' gallops into National Harbor

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Photo by Tauren Dyson. Stephanie?Evans performs  at the “ Odysseyo: Larger Than Life” show at National Harbor.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Stephanie?Evans performs at the “ Odysseyo: Larger Than Life” show at National Harbor.

Published on: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

“Odysseo: Larger Than Life” presented by Cavalia set up shop on The Plateau at the National Harbor as the horse extravaganza premiered last week.

The event featured a dazzling display of artful movement, blending gymnastics, dancing and equestrian tricks of 49 artists and 64 horses.

Attendees will see the horses shoot across the stage at blazing speeds, often times with riders being dragged along the sides of them. Another sequence features a series of leaps over six-foot tall bars held by acrobats. Visitors will also be treated to acrobats bouncing around with pogo sticks, while other performers rely on the natural spring in their own legs to spring airborne.

Much of the movement on stage takes place in front of a mound of dirt and a moving faux-blue sky landscape. With nearly 20 square-feet of space of stage to perform, it gives the acrobats and stallions room to safely crisscross between one another and become one with nature.

“I started this show 10 years ago, and I wanted to move the it a step forward,” said Normand Latourelle, Odyssey president and artistic director. “We have a forest; we have a mountain; we have projections that help us travel throughout one of the most amazing landscapes in the world. … I wanted to bring nature to the stage.”

Some have called the event “Cirque Du Soleil with horses” because Latourelle, 57, is one of the founders of that legendary big top event. He helped start Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horses. In 2011, “Odysseia” wanted to show “horses and humans leave together to meet a world between dream and reality,” according to the Cavalia website.

At certain points of the show, in a display of human-like choreography, the horses arrange themselves in order of color. At other points, one rider manages to simultaneously ride and control a quadrant of horses that all manage to sprint in stunning synchronicity.  

 “Odyssey” runs two hours and will play at The Plateau at National Harbor, Tuesday to Sunday, through Oct. 27.

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