Audience members at a Cirque du Soleil performance Saturday in Las Vegas described their horror as they witnessed the death of one of the show’s cast members who was killed in a 50-foot fall.
"Sarah Guyard-Guillot, an artist in ‘Ka’ at MGM Grand and a mother of two children ages 8 and 5, was killed Saturday night after a fall from the show’s stage at MGM Grand. The Clark County Coroner’s Office said [Sunday] afternoon that Guyard-Guillot, 31, was pronounced dead at 11:43 p.m. Saturday at University Medical Center," the Las Vegas Sun reports.
"No formal cause of death has been determined pending further examination of Guyard-Guillot’s body. She was born in Paris and had spent more than 22 years as an acrobatic performer. She was a graduate of Annie Fratellini Art & Circus Academy, named for the famed French circus clown and actress. The official website for Cirqeufit acrobatics school in Las Vegas, where Guyard-Guillot served as a coach, said she was an acrobatic and aerialist specialist. She was hired by ‘Ka’ as the production opened at MGM Grand in 2004."
MGM Resorts International, a partner of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, released a statement Sunday saying: "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."
Guyard-Guillot’s death was the first reported fatality in an onstage accident in the 30-year history of Cirque, the report notes.
"According to reports from audience members, the incident occurred Saturday night during the latter stages of the production at MGM Grand. Guyard-Guillot was one of the artists suspended by a wire from the show’s vertical stage in the show-closing Final Battle scene. As she ascended to the top of the stage, she slipped free of her safety wire and dropped to the open, unseen pit below the performers," the Sun reports.
Guyard-Guillot was said to be still in her harness when she fell.
"The show momentarily continued, but then the music halted, and the performer’s screams and groans could be heard from below the stage," the story reports.
Dan Mosqueda, who was in the audience with his family, said: “(The artist) was being hoisted up the side of the stage and then just plummeted down. Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the choreographed fight. But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage.”
The Sun adds: "Minutes after the artist’s fall, a recorded announcement was played on the theater’s sound system informing ticket-buyers that refunds or vouchers to future shows would be offered to those in the audience, and the crowd was dismissed."
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte said: “I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news. [Guyard-Guillot] was an artist with the original cast of ‘Ka’ since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. 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."
Performances of "Ka" were canceled until further notice.