NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

August 8, 2013

Spectacle celebrates bond between horses and humans

Dozens of world-class performers — more than 60 of them four-legged — have descended on Somerville to perform “Odysseo,” the circus show celebrating the unique bond between humans and horses.

The show is written and directed by one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil, Normand Latourelle.

“It sounds pretentious to say, but it is one of the best shows you will ever see,” Latourelle said.

“Odysseo” pairs human and horse performers to explore the bond that people and horses have shared throughout the centuries. From the deserts of Africa to Nordic glaciers, the show loosely follows the history of humans and horses, and the journeys that the two species have undertaken together.

“The human and the horse are both great performers, and it is fun to watch,” Latourelle said.

Writing and directing a show that involves more than 60 horses was an unlikely choice for Latourelle, who had little equine experience before he began working on “Cavalia,” Odysseo’s sister show, 10 years ago.

After seeing Cirque du Soleil become one of the most celebrated shows in the world, Latourelle returned home to Quebec to work on shows that would not require as much travel. One of these shows featured a horse, and Latourelle soon began to notice something interesting.

“It happened every time that horse would come onstage. It was stealing focus from the performer,” he said. “That attracted my attention. I said, ‘What is going on? It’s just a horse.” I am not a horse person, but I saw that the audience was very attracted by that horse.”

Latourelle recognized that the horse had the potential to captivate the audience in a way that even the most skilled human performers could not. He bought six performing horses and began to familiarize himself with the animals.

“In the end, I thought they were the most beautiful animal on Earth,” he said. “They’re very playful, very elegant. They are really stars.”

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