How To Flood A Stage

Just recently we had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes peek at Cavalia’s Odysseo show.  The $25 million production just put down its stakes near our office in Scottsdale and when offered an opportunity to visit, we could not resist.

Created by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle, Cavalia pushes the limits of live entertainment with a theatrical experience as no other. Its newest production Odysseo combines awe inspiring acrobatics, equestrian arts, and high-tech theatrical effects under a massive 10-story tall White Big Top. The 15,000 square foot stage features a real carousel, and a magically appearing 80,000 gallon lake in front of a stunning video backdrop the size of three IMAX screens.


When twenty trucks are needed to transport a tent you know we’re not talking about the striped canvas tents that used to pop up in an afternoon, housing a one-ring circus. The Odysseo Big Top is massive. It reaches 110 feet high, as high as a 10-story building. It spans more than 120,000 square feet, features a 15,000 square feet stage, and has seating for 2,000. Up to four 230 feet wide and 89 feet high arches support the structure.   

Time-lapse video of Big Top set-up

Aside of the main tent, the Odysseo Village has eight more tents. There are stables that house the show’s 56 horses, a grooming tent, a warm-up and artist tent, two VIP tents, two kitchens and an employee cafeteria. The village is hooked up to local water, electrical service and sewer. It takes a team of 80 to set-up and tear down the structure, and 80 trucks are needed to transport all of the show’s equipment from city to city.


As guests enter the venue, they are immediately transported into a lavish and comfortable environment reminiscent of any permanent theatre.  From their seats the audience becomes part of an immersive, three dimensional experience. A high-definition screen the size of three IMAX theatres surrounds the stage and transports the audience into the world of Odysseo. Geodezik created the visual concept for the show. The world designed for the show is meant to discreetly serve as an alternative echo for the scenic environment, all the while complimenting the lighting effects, scenography and staged numbers of the show.

The spectacular 15,000 square feet stage features two mountains and takes more than 10,000 tons of stones, dirt and sand to create. An underground system especially built for the show floods the stage with 80,000 gallons of water in 3 minutes as part of the show’s spectacular finale. A unique mixture of sand and fiber allows the stage to be drained in 15 minutes. The water is recycled, especially appreciated in Arizona.

A technical grid supports 80 tons of sound, lights, a real carousel and other acrobatic tools. 


Aside of an amazing show, Cavalia offers audiences exclusive VIP packages. The intimate Rendez-Vous experience has limited opportunities per show. Guests are treated to a red carpet arrival, and partake in a gourmet dinner and all-inclusive bar. During intermission they retreat back to the VIP area for dessert and coffee, and after the show mingle with artists and take an exclusive tour of the stables. The Rendez-Vous experience includes the best seats in the house.

The contemporary Horse Lovers VIP tent offers a slightly more casual VIP-lounge experience with gourmet hors d’oeuvres and bar pre-show. Desserts with coffee are served during the intermission. It offers a tour of the stables and includes fantastic seats for the show. The VIP lounges offer a first class experience to guests. The areas are well-appointed and comfortable. Friendly hosts help with check in and assist guests with shopping in the exclusive VIP boutique located in the lounge. 

Post-show meet and greet for VIP audience members

Group bookings are available for corporate events, and the show’s team can even help you create a unique custom after-show experience in the Big Top.


The show has 120 full-time employees including artists, individuals working the stables and behind the scenes support. 200 local employees are hired to assist with box office, concessions, front of house and other tasks.

A locally rented 250 ton crane is needed to raise each supporting arch of the Big Top.

The Big Top’s canvas is held in place by 1,310 one-meter/three feet long stakes holding down 250 anchor plates.

There are 9 different breeds of horses in the show from 6 countries. The horses are Appaloosa, Arabian, Canadian, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Paint Horse, Quarter Horse, Spanish Purebred (P.R.E.) and Warmblood.

There are 43 artists from 8 countries in the show using 350 costumes during the performance.


The show is in Scottsdale, AZ through January 20th. It opens in Burbank, CA on February 27th and May 14th in Laval, QC Canada.  For more information, group bookings or custom events visit

Pictures courtesy of Cavalia Odysseo

- Al Wynant