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October 1, 2014

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Vigil for Sarah Guyard-Guillot comes to light as talk of a benefit show surfaces

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David Fox

Sarah (Sasoun) Guillot-Guyard after an end-of-session performance with her students at Cirquefit in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 29, 2013, just hours before her death.

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Sarah Guyard-Guillot

When she was not performing in “Ka,” Sarah Guyard-Guillot spent considerable time in a fitness studio on West Flamingo Road.

That is where Guyard-Guillot taught students through Cirquefit fitness center and where she will be remembered tonight at 7 p.m. during a candlelight vigil at Studio 222 (The Fit Labs) on 8645 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 104, in Las Vegas. Those plans were posted on ForSasoun.com, the memorial website established to pay tribute to Guyard-Guillot. Further plans for public services, and where to send flowers or donations, are to be posted on that site.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Clark County Coroner’s Office announced that the official cause of death for Guyard-Guillot was multiple blunt force trauma caused by a fall of 90 feet from the stage at “Ka” at MGM Grand on Saturday night. The incident occurred about 11 p.m. near the end of the second performance as Guyard-Guillot fell from the Battle Wall during the show’s closing Final Battle scene, plummeting into the open pit below the show’s vertical stage.

The coroner’s report differs from initial eyewitness accounts, which indicated that Guyard-Guillot fell at least 50 feet from a stage wall that is 70 feet in length. The pit below is 25 feet to the concrete floor. Also, original reports from audience members were that Guyard-Guillot could be heard screaming and groaning from below the stage; since, those seated in the theater have said they could not be sure if it was stagehands or her who could be heard from that unseen space.

It is the first death during a performance ever for Cirque.

As OSHA has embarked on its investigation into the accident, Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard says the “Ka” cast and members of the production team will be paid their regular salaries as the show is dark indefinitely. She also said the company will not decide until after OSHA releases its findings whether the production will return with all of its acts — including the Final Battle scene — intact.

There have been no formal plans by Cirque to pay tribute to Guyard-Guillot, a 31-year-old single mother of two who was an original member of “Ka” when the show opened in 2006. Menard said that subject would be discussed among Cirque officials and the artist’s family.

One idea that has been floated in the Las Vegas entertainment community, particularly from cast members of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, is for performers across the city to organize a fundraising show for Guyard-Guillot’s family or for a cause she favored. That concept is embryonic, but Las Vegas entertainers are known for their fast response in organizing and staging such a charity production.

Cirque officials have asked that all questions about the incident be directed to headquarters in Montreal, so current and former artists with the company have been reluctant to talk about the accident or Guyard-Guillot. Nonetheless, Guyard-Guillot’s fellow artists and friends have been posting tributes on their Facebook pages, where many have posted the "Ka" logo as their profile photo as a tribute to the fallen artist.

One post, from former “Mystere” artist Erica Linz, reads: "Too many times, I hear people refer to performers as fearless. I've taken to gently correcting them by saying, ‘We're not fearless, we're brave.’ We understand the risks; we know that under the big top, potential disaster lurks behind each corner. We know that winning your astonishment and awe requires a death-defying balance of beauty and danger, and we accept it with open eyes and aching joints. We do this with great love and joy for the privilege of entertaining our audience and being a part of their lives.

“We are not fearless ... we are brave ... and I will miss my brave friend Sasoun very, very much. I will be forever grateful to have shared so many laughs, moments of sisterhood, and to have overcome so many fears together. All my love to the ‘Ka’ family and the sisters of dressing room D. Peace to you, my dearest Sarah Guyard-Guillot."

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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