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Cirque du Soleil performer killed in Las Vegas show

By Matt Smith, CNN
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 0237 GMT (1037 HKT)
In a November 2008 performance, Sarah Guillot-Guyard , left, and Sami Tiaumassi play "Forest People" during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" at MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Guillot-Guyard, 31, who was part of the original show cast, fell during the show finale on Saturday, June 29, and was pronounced dead shortly after. In a November 2008 performance, Sarah Guillot-Guyard , left, and Sami Tiaumassi play "Forest People" during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" at MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Guillot-Guyard, 31, who was part of the original show cast, fell during the show finale on Saturday, June 29, and was pronounced dead shortly after.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A witness describes what happened during the accident
  • Sarah Guillot-Guyard died during a performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
  • She was born in Paris and specialized as an acrobat and aerialist
  • Guillot-Guyard was part of the original cast of "Ka"

(CNN) -- A performer from Cirque du Soleil died in a weekend accident during a show at a Las Vegas casino, authorities said Sunday.

The performer, 31-year-old Sarah Guillot-Guyard, was pronounced dead shortly before midnight Saturday, the Clark County, Nevada, medical examiner's office told CNN. The cause of death had not been determined Sunday afternoon.

The accident happened during the show's finale, said Cirque Du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard. During the scene, performers are suspended up to 50 feet in the air on lines controlled by wireless remote controls, according to the troupe's website.

Guillot-Guyard "was being hoisted up the side of the stage and then just plummeted down," witness Dan Mosqueda told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

"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."

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The accident reportedly occurred during the battle scene that takes place on a vertical stage.
The accident reportedly occurred during the battle scene that takes place on a vertical stage.

Guillot-Guyard was born in Paris, specialized as an acrobat and aerialist and had performed for more than 20 years, according to a website for Cirquefit, which describes itself as a circus and fitness program for kids.

She taught classes through that program. Parents of some of her students left messages on the group's Facebook page remembering Guillot-Guyard.

"No words. My boys loved every moment in Miss Sarah's class. Deepest sympathies to her loved ones," wrote one.

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"We will miss her terribly! She was an amazing teacher!" wrote another.

Guillot-Guyard, nicknamed "Sassoon," was part of the original cast of "Ka," the long-running Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand hotel and casino, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté said in a statement issued Sunday.

The show has been canceled indefinitely, and the company is "working with the appropriate authorities and have offered our full cooperation," Laliberté said.

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"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, " he added.

The title of the show comes from an ancient Egyptian belief in the "ka," a spiritual copy of the body that's with people in this life and the next, according to the company.

Cirque du Soleil, which translates as "Circus of the Sun" from French, is headquartered in Montreal. It was founded in 1984.

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CNN's Janet DiGiacomo and Douglas Hyde contributed to this report.

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