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First Death During Cirque du Soleil Performance

For 29 years, Cirque du Soleil had defied death, never seeing a performer die on the job. Until this past weekend

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Cirque du Soleil is one of the most famous acrobatic shows in the world. They feature high flying trapeze artists, incredible juggling, and death-defying acrobatics. And for 29 years, the show had indeed defied death, never seeing a performer die on the job. Until this past weekend, when a Cirque veteran named Sarah Guillot-Guyard fell nearly 50 feet to her death.

Audience members reported seeing the woman fall from her spot up on a catwalk and disappear into the stage’s pit. The Los Angeles Times reports that audience members waited in silence as emergency crews were called to the scene. Eventually they ushered the audience out and promised refunds.

As with any big acrobatics show, Cirque performers often find themselves in risky situations. But the show has had a stellar track record for injuries. The Los Angeles Times writes:

Cirque has prided itself on its safety record — in a 2011 news release, it touted a study by five university physician-scientists in Canada and the United States concluding that the incidence of severe injuries at Cirque was “markedly lower than for National Collegiate Athletic Assn. sports such as football, hockey, soccer, basketball and gymnastics in the United States.”

While this death is the first during a performance, it is not the first for Cirque in general. Oleksandr Zhurov died after falling from a trampoline during training in 2009. Several injuries have occurred during performances as well.

All future “Ka” shows have been cancelled until further notice. Here is KNTV on the death:

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Flying acrobat performance in Piccadilly Circus, central London as part of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games festivities.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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