Local Acrobat Talks About Safety Concerns After Cirque du Soleil Death

8:25 AM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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(WUSA9) -- A long-time acrobat died onstage during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" performance in Las Vegas this weekend. It was the first death in the show's 30 year history. 

A local high-flying acrobat at another circus in our area talked to us about renewed safety concerns.

"Every single time I run back to the caravan to go to the bathroom and come back," said 23-year-old Kaely Michels-Gualtiere.

No harness, just nerves, and Michels-Gualtiere, twisting and turning on this trapeze.  But when you're defying gravity, there is always a risk. This past Saturday a veteran performer of the Cirque du Soleil "Ka" cast fell 50 feet to her death. The wire she was tethered to reportedly snapped.

Michels-Gualtiere told us, "It reminds me everytime you do something, to double and triple check everything and trust the people you work with beyond any doubt."

The stage at the Prince William County Fairgrounds presents its own challenges. There's the extra added element of water, it's higher up and the crowd is just a few feet away.

Michels-Gualtiere is the highest-flying performer. At one point she'll swing more than 35 feet in the air. Remember, it's in front of a live audience where anything can happen. It makes everyone excited and nervous.

Despite the sad news in Las Vegas, this Washington-bred acrobat says she feels at home hanging around in her hometown, still looking to climb to the big stages like the ones at Cirque du Soleil.

"It's a dream come true," said Michels-Gualtiere.

Cirque Italia is on a nationwide tour. It runs from July 3 through July 7 in Manassas, Va. before putting on shows in Owing Mills, Md.

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