May 4, 2014
MICHELLE R. SMITH
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A spokesman says eight acrobats fell from a platform at a circus in Rhode Island while one dancer was injured on the floor below.
The accident happened Sunday morning during the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., confirmed that nine performers were seriously injured, including eight who were in the air.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says officials and inspectors haven't yet determined what caused the accident.
The show's general manager says the accident occurred during the "hair hang" act while performers are hanging from their hair.
Another set of circus performers have been in Charlottesville for a weekend of shows that started on Thursday.
Luckily, the seven performances in central Virginia have gone on without a hitch, but the complicated stunts had many people biting their nails.
"This is my first time in my whole life I've been to any circus," said Emily Smithdeal, who attended the last show on Sunday with her family.
But Smithdeal's circus experience looked a lot different from the one in Providence, Rhode Island, that sent several performers plummeting to the ground during what witnesses say was a "hair hanging act."
It's a stunt Charlottesville circus-goers say was not performed here on Sunday, but the aerialists in town did make moves that had audience members holding their breath.
"It made me realize what the human body is capable of and it's just crazy," said Smithdeal. "I mean, these guys were stacked up and they were doing handstands while they were in a pyramid! It was crazy."
While Sunday's mishap in Rhode Island proves the performers are not invincible, Smithdeal says she did not fear for their safety in general when she was enjoying the show.
"I guess I just knew that they were professionals and they get the job done," she said.