Cirque du Soleil’s Friday Echo show was interrupted when two acrobats were injured after they fell onstage mid-performance.
The performers were tended to by an emergency team and taken to hospital, where they were released after a few hours, according to Urgences-santé.
The artists will continue to be monitored by Echo’s medical team to determine when they will be able to resume their activities as per protocol, the company said.
Customers who purchased their tickets directly from Cirque du Soleil will be automatically credited. Cirque du Soleil confirmed that the performances on Saturday and Sunday will go ahead.
The Echo show has been presented at the Old Port of Montreal since April. This weekend’s performances are the last in the city.
‘It went ‘boom,’ audience member says
Mario Ste-Marie and his husband Gérard Briand are circus regulars who have attended Cirque du Soleil shows around the world. They were in the audience at Friday’s performance when the accident happened, between 20 and 40 minutes into the show.
According to Ste-Marie, the two injured were on the shoulders of other acrobats, back-to-back, at the time of the accident.
“[The two artists] went up in the air and hooked onto each other. Then it went ‘boom’ on the floor,” he said.
“That’s when it stopped moving. It took a few seconds before the technicians and paramedics arrived. They evacuated the other acrobats who were onstage.”
Ste-Marie says everyone gasped for breath, and someone in the audience felt faint.
The Cirque du Soleil team reportedly told the audience that the intermission would last longer than the usual 25 minutes. They first told the audience that they were experiencing technical difficulties — twice — and then admitted in their third announcement that the accident had forced them to cancel the performance.
While Ste-Marie considers Cirque du Soleil’s reaction to have been appropriate, his husband said he was surprised that the intervention following the accident was carried out in full view of the public.
“I would have thought that a curtain would have been brought down,” said Briand.
But, the audience remained respectful, he said.
This accident will not deter Ste-Marie and Briand from going to see other Cirque du Soleil shows, though.
“It’s an institution that should be encouraged,” says Briand.
Accidents here and elsewhere
This is not the first accident for Cirque du Soleil, which employs nearly 4,000 people worldwide, including 1,300 artists.
In July 2022, an acrobat was injured two days before the premiere of the show Vive nos Divas! in Trois-Rivières, a situation that the Amphithéâtre Cogeco had asked the media to keep quiet.
An acrobat died in a fall onstage during the Volta show in Tampa in 2018.
An acrobat who fell from a trampoline had suffered minor back injuries during a performance of OVO at the Bell Centre at the end of 2016. This was the third incident for Cirque du Soleil in a week.
The day before, technician Olivier Rochette, son of co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix, was injured when a telescopic gondola fell on the site of the Luzia show in San Francisco. He died of his injuries in hospital.
Earlier the same week, Australian acrobat and Olympic gymnast Lisa Skinner was taken to hospital after fracturing a vertebra in a fall during a performance of Kooza in Australia.
In 2013, Cirque du Soleil suffered two accidents in the same week. An acrobat fell to the ground during the Michael Jackson ONE show, while another died from multiple traumas during a performance of KÀ.