What should have been another fun-filled summer weekend turned tragic last Saturday night, when Sarah Guillot-Guyard, a 31-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer and mother of two, fell to her death during a live performance of "KA" at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Sassoon" (as her Cirque family called her) reportedly was being hoisted up the side of the vertical stage during the show's final battle scene when she slipped from her safety wire. Fans and families, including many children, watched in horror as the acrobat plummeted more than 50 feet into an open pit below the performers.
At first, many people in the audience assumed this was part of the act, but it soon became clear something was terribly wrong.
"You could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage," a witness named Dan Mosqueda (who attended the show with his wife and 10-year-old son) recounted to the Las Vegas Sun.
This was followed by an announcement that promised all audience members a full refund and then promptly dismissed them.
Guillot-Guyard was pronounced dead at 11:43 p.m. at University Medical Center.
It didn't take long for Hollywood to offer its condolences.
Neal Patrick Harris tweeted, "My thoughts go out to the family of Sarah Guyard-Guillot, an amazing performer in KA who died last night. Original cast member. So Sad."
And Nina Dobrev took to Twitter shortly thereafter. "Shocked and saddened by the news of Cirque du Soleil performer Sarah (Sassoon) Guyard's death," she wrote. "My condolences go to her family."
On Sunday, Cirque du Soleil issued a statement which reflected shock, mourning, and an attempt to take actions to mend (as much as possible) the unthinkable situation.
"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is deeply saddened by the accidental death of Sarah (Sassoon) Guyard, artist on the production KA, that happened on Saturday, June 29, in Las Vegas. The artist's immediate family has been informed of the accident," it began.
"Our thoughts are with her family and the entire Cirque du Soleil family."
Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, expressed his personal sadness as well.
"I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news. Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of 'KA' since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family," he explained. "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."
The statement wrapped up by making it clear that Cirque is both cooperating with the authorities and cancelling all performances of "KA" until further notice — which is probably the right move.
So far, the official cause of Guillot-Guyard's death has not been determined.
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