We do not know what exactly happened and that info will be slow in coming. But there is an erie sense of deja vu in the air this morning among some in the production community after a 31-year-old acrobat fell to her death last night during a performance of Cirque du Soliel’s KA show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

According to a story filed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal by John Katsilometes, Sarah Guillot-Guyard fell during the final fight scene.

I have written before about this show. And here is where the erie part comes in. NOTE! I DO NOT KNOW THE CAUSE! I AM NOT SUGGESTING THE FOLLOWING HAPPENED! But this is a scenario we discussed more than five years ago.

When I first started writing about the war for wireless spectrum when I was still the editor at FOH Magazine, we cited several examples of wireless and life safety issues. And one of those examples was this scene in the KA show. 

KA has two stage platforms. One can move in any direction on a two-dimensional, horizontal plane. The second is a wonder of staging tech that can move and rotate into virtually any position in THREE dimensions. During this final fight scene, the stage is completely vertical and the performers are harnessed and hanging from wires. The wires are controlled by chain motors and the motors are controlled by the performers themselves. (At least that was the case at that point in time. It may have changed over the years.) Each performer had a “dead man” switch which when engaged, caused the motor to disengage allowing the performer to appear to fall. Disengaging the switch allowed the motor to engage which halted the performer’s “fall.”

We talked about this in terms of wireless because those dead man switches are wireless. The thought at that time was that with the FCC allowing consumer devices in the same spectruym as our wireless mics and control, that an audience member could inadvertently interfere with the signal between the performer and the motor, keeping the “engage” command from getting through and allowing the performer to fall all the way to the pit under the stage. That is a 60-foot fall from the top of the platform to the pit.

IMAGE FROM THE CIRQUEFIT WEB SITE.

We do not know what caused this tragic accident but that is the exact kind of fall that happened last night.  Sarah Guillot-Guyard was an acrobatic performer since age 9 when she was a child in Paris and the mother of her own two small children. She was the head coach at a program called CirqueFit that used circus routines in a kid’s fitness setting and a graduate of the Annie Fratellini Art & Circus Academy in Paris. We will continue to monitor news from official sources and try to find out what happened. For now, our thoughts and prayers are with her children and the entire Cirque family.