The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cirque du Soleil performer dies after fall during Las Vegas show

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A Paris-born performer in Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" died after a fall during a show in Las Vegas.

Sarah Guyard-Guillot was pronounced dead late Saturday night at a hospital after falling about 50 feet from the show's stage.

Witnesses told the Las Vegas Sun (http://bit.ly/14H3Te0 ) that the accident occurred near the end of the production Saturday night at the MGM Grand.

Visitor Dan Mosqueda of Colorado Springs, Colo., said the 31-year-old acrobatic performer was being hoisted up the side of the stage when it appeared that she slipped free of her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage.

"Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the (show)," he told the Sun. "But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."

The show momentarily continued, then stopped. Minutes after the accident, a recorded announcement informed audience members that refunds or vouchers to future shows would be offered, and the crowd was dismissed.

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte issued a statement Sunday praising Guyard-Guillot and saying performances of "Ka" have been cancelled until further notice.

Guyard-Guillot, a mother of two children, had been with the original cast of "Ka" since 2006, and had been an acrobatic performer for over 20 years.

"I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated," Laliberte said. "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."

Cirque officials are working with authorities investigating the accident and have offered their full co-operation, he added.

The Clark County Coroner's Office will rule on the cause of death.

The Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 and has become an international entertainment giant, employing 5,000 employees around the world including more than 1,300 artists.

The company boasts on its website that more than 100 million spectators have seen a Cirque du Soleil show since 1984.

With files from The Canadian Press

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