Some tragic news over the weekend: a high-wire performer fell to her death Saturday night toward the end of the performance of Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun.
Paris-born Sarah Guyard-Guillot, 31, had been an acrobatic performer since childhood. According to reports, the wire suspending her apparently gave way as she was being hoisted up during the show’s final scene. She fell approximately 50 feet into a pit in front of the stage. She was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center.
Eyewitnesses reported that it took a few moments for audience members to realize the fall was not part of the show. As it became apparent what had happened, other performers onstage became visibly upset, and screaming and groaning could be heard. The performance was halted, followed by an announcement on the P.A. that refunds or vouchers for future performances would be available. The crowd was then dismissed.
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte made the following statement: “I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated. We are reminded with great humility and respect how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family.” Laliberte also stated that performances of “Ka” are cancelled until further notice.
MGM Resorts International also issued a statement of condolence: “Our company is deeply saddened by the loss of one of the talented KA artists Saturday night. The thoughts and prayers of our employees are with the performer’s family, the cast of KA, and the entire Cirque family during this difficult time.”
An official cause of death has not been given at this time, but Cirque du Soleil officials are cooperating with local authorities to determine exactly what happened to cause the accident.
Arguably the largest dramatic/acrobatic performance organization in the world, Cirque du Soleil currently features nearly two dozen unique shows with multiple troupes and hundreds of touring and resident performances worldwide. They employ over 1300 performing artists and musicians who entertain audiences of about 15 million people per year, according to the organization’s website. The live shows are particularly known not only for their dynamic and often death-defying performances, but also for their dramatic original scores performed by live orchestras during the shows. With all their shows performed over a history spanning nearly 30 years, this is the first reported instance of a death of a performer during a live performance.
Sarah Guyard-Guillot had performed for 22 years, and was part of the original cast of “Ka” since it began in 2006. She leaves behind two children.