Some Hollywood stars vacation in Venice, some in Paris or London, but in Hollister, California? Yes! My friends Omerio, Farol, Shake, Gaditano, and Lilicenciat are among the 65 galloping performing stars of the $30 million tour de force Odysseo, the world’s largest traveling show by Cavalia, who have found their field of dreams for some well-deserved rest and relaxation in a small agricultural town of Hollister only 40 miles south of San Jose.
The natural beauty and tranquility of the stable farms in Hollister are a far cry from the spectacular Odysseo production, with 65 horses, 45 acrobats, and superb trick and Cossack-style riders in the 17,500 square foot stage featuring a 35 foot-high mountain of real dirt, a merry-go-round, a gigantic video screen and an 80,000 gallon pool. No shortage of water here.
As the New York Times observed, “Breathtaking is an overused word, but the sheer acceleration of these animals is a heady thing indeed. Humans… are just along for the ride, whether they choreographed it or not.”
In my conversation with Guennadi Touaev, the trick and Cossack rider and Equestrian Voltige trainer, who joined Odysseo since its creation six years ago, I wanted to know how many years it takes to train the performers or the horses. “There are several areas of training: my particular area is ‘tricks’ and ‘Cossack’ riding. The real Cossacks used the riding tricks in the war battles. When the battles were over and the Cossacks needed a job, they joined the circus. After processing the applicants’ resumes and viewing the videos of their performances, the selected candidates are invited for an interview. They start training younger than 20 years old, and reach the professional stage between 22 to 25 years old. Currently I am training 20 new novice riders. But the horses are the most important part of our training. They have to be trained at a very young age. The addition of the show’s water acts requires a special training in making sure the horses get used to this unique environment. My newest horses come from Spain.”
The glamorous lives of these astonishing four-legged darlings of Odysseo include a team of 20 caretakers such as trainers, veterinarians, health technicians, and groomers, flying in their own specially outfitted jet planes, performing only 12 minutes a day, with the offer of two to three weeks of vacation in between each engagement. This is much better than my perks at my previous job as a Director of Public Relation at a luxury hotel in San Jose, but after all, I was not a showbiz star, although I performed a lot of glamour-related duties in my daily workload.
Has Hollister, site of an annual motorcycle rally around July 4th which was the basis for the 1953 film The Wild One starring Marlon Brando, and now the roaming vacation spot for Odysseo’s performing stars, become a new travel and tourism destination? Or is it the seductive aroma of garlic wafting over from neighboring Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world? I guess I’ll have to visit it to find out.
The Bay Area audiences are definitely in for an additional remarkable treat as the show’s producers have extended the show’s run through October 30. Visit www.cavalia.net for details and the tickets info or call 1-866-999-8111.
Photos courtesy of Odysseo
Lina Broydo immigrated from Russia, then the Soviet Union, to Israel where she was educated and got married. After working at the University in Birmingham, England, she and her husband immigrated to the United States. She lives in Los Altos Hills, CA and writes about travel, art, style, entertainment, and sports. She hardly cooks or bakes, with no borsch or piroshky on her home cooking menu. Therefore, she makes reservations and enjoys dining out, mostly sushi.
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