The Making of Odysseo’s White Big Top          

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star-sponsored-nativeThe following is sponsored by Odysseo by Cavalia.

Standing 125 feet tall, the White Big Top is a traffic-stopping addition to the skyline of each city where Odysseo performs. When visitors enter, they are immediately transported into a lavish and intimate environment reminiscent of any permanent theatre.

Following the instant success of the company’s eponymous show in 2003, creator and artistic director Normand Latourelle began to dream of how to break through the limitations of a big top tent. The biggest challenge was to open up the performance area. Latourelle knew that such unprecedented flexibility would allow him to showcase more horses and acrobats to create mind-boggling scenes. This involved removing supporting masts from the stage, a common staging issue in tent shows. A specially-designed big top was created in Europe, where the weight of the structure shifted from masts to three arches above the tent. The Italian firm Canobbio, in collaboration with Normand Latourelle, designed the tent and supervised construction. Asteo of France and Genivar of Canada oversaw engineering operations. The arches that support the massive structure were built by Show Canada.

More than twice the size of the structure created for the first production, Odysseo’s White Big Top is the size of an NFL football field. The 17,500 square foot stage, larger than a hockey rink, and the 50 foot wide backstage area offers a vast playground for more than 30 cantering horses. The grandiose stage also offers incredible possibilities for large-scale staging.

A total of five tents comprise the Odysseo village. The White Big Top houses the stage and backstage, seating, and lobby areas under a single roof. The Rendez-Vous tent hosts VIP ticket holders for dinner, an open bar, and photo opportunities with the artists. This package includes a private tour of the stables and the best seats in the house. The horses live in a climate-controlled stable tend complete with showers, tack shop, and a blacksmith department. Between the stables and White Big Top, the Warm-Up tent is where the riders rehears with the horses before and after the show. This area also includes wardrobe, makeup, and dressing areas for the human artists. A staff kitchen tent prepares more than 300 meals daily.

Assembly of the White Big Top

  • There are 3 arches that support the White Big Top. Each arch consists of 8 sections that are 8 feet wide by 29 feet long. Once assembled, each arch is 88 feet high by 203 feet long.
  • The masts of the big top have been specifically engineered to be able to lift the arches into place.
  • The canvas is held in place by 1,310 three-foot long stakes holding down the 250 anchor plates.
  • 26 motors are needed to raise the canvas onto the structure, resulting in the White Big Top.
  • The length of all the steel cable used to attach the structure to the ground is equal to 3.6 miles.