Another Cirque artist injured in ‘O’ Island act

Nine months after a Cirque du Soleil artist was paralyzed in an on-stage accident during “O” at Bellagio, another cast member has been injured in the same act.

The incident halted Friday’s 7 p.m. performance of Cirque’s flagship production on the Strip.

The artist, who has not been identified according to the company’s medical-privacy policies, fell from another performer’s shoulders during the show’s Island scene.

Reports from inside the production indicate the performer’s head struck the barge-designed set piece as the act broke.

The show reportedly paused for about 50 minutes as the artist underwent mobility tests behind the curtain, before being taken from the stage in a wheelchair. An ambulance then transported the cast member to the hospital, and the performer was released.

The Island scene was cut from the second performance, which started at 10 p.m., a half-hour after its scheduled 9:30 start. But the scene will be back on stage Saturday night.

Cirque confirmed the incident Saturday, issuing a statement:

“On March 22, during the 7 p.m. performance of ‘O’ by Cirque du Soleil at Bellagio, an artist fell from another artist’s shoulders during the Island act. In accordance with our emergency response protocols, we stopped the show to allow the emergency intervention team of ‘O’ to safely bring the artist backstage where they were immediately taken in good care by the medical team, transported to the hospital and released.

“As always in the case of an accident, the artist will continue to be monitored by the ‘O’ medical and coaching teams to determine when they can return to their activities. The Island act will return to the show (Saturday).”

The Island scene is the same act in which diver and artist Kyle Mitrione was injured on June 28. Mitrione suffered a fractured C6 vertebrae and remains a quadriplegic. He is still working on increasing his functionality during rehab in Las Vegas.

As a result of that incident, in December the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported two “serious” violations after a review of Cirque’s operational practices at the Bellagio.

The penalties were $15,625 apiece, OSHA’s maximum fine for an on-site work violation. “O,” which celebrated its 25th anniversary in October, grosses between $120 million-$140 million annually.

In its findings, OSHA cited Cirque for failing to provide sufficient audio or visual cues so artists know when it is safe to dive into shallow water.

Also, the agency penalized Cirque for requiring its artists to be strapped into body belts as a “fall arrest system” during high-dive and trapeze acts. “In all instances employees were potentially exposed to serious physical injuries such as internal organ damage and asphyxiation.”

That penalty was not related to the incident in which Mitrione was injured.

The Island scene is the second number in the “O” show, and was introduced to the production about two weeks before Mitrione was injured. It was subsequently taken down, returning this past November.

{ SOURCE: John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal }