Nine circus performers were injured after plummeting to the ground while performing an aerial stunt at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show in Providence, R.I., on Sunday, officials said.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said the performers were seriously injured after falling 25 to 40 feet, according to the Associated Press.
A spokesman for the circus told the Los Angeles Times that the eight aerial acrobats and one dancer were hurt during the "hair hang" act at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, where performers hang from their hair.
"All performers in the act received immediate medical attention and were transported to a local hospital for further care," Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey company officials said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times, but said they had no information on the severity of their injuries.
[Updated, 6:45 p.m. PDT May 4: Officials said on Sunday evening that the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
A Rhode Island Hospital official confirmed that seven performers had been admitted to the hospital but declined to give their conditions.
On the circus' website, the “Hair Hang” act is billed as the “one-of-a-kind” creation of husband-and-wife team Andre and Viktoria Medeiros, with Viktoria performing as one of the eight aerialists in the act.
"These 'hairialists' perform a combination of choreography and cut-ups including spinning, hanging from hoops, and rolling down wrapped silks, all while being suspended 35 feet in the air by their hair alone!" the website says. "In this hair-raising act, audiences will even see the weight of three girls held aloft by the locks of only one of these tangled beauties."
The website added, "It is Andre’s attention to every detail, even welding the three different rigs that the girls hang from, that keeps his troupe safe and sound each and every time the act is presented.” (He hung up when a Los Angeles Times reporter reached him by phone on Sunday evening.)]
Circus officials added that the troupe's afternoon and evening shows were canceled while an investigation into the fall gets under way.
An audience member's video uploaded to YouTube (and embedded below) appears to show the incident. An emcee on the floor introduces the "amazing, hair-raising" act just before a curtain falls and reveals several acrobats hanging from some kind of scaffold.
"Suspended only by a string!" the emcee appears to tells the crowd -- right as the scaffolding suddenly plummets to the ground, taking the performers with it.
"Are they supposed to fall like that?" one audience member can be heard asking on the video. "No," someone else responds, as several circus workers rushed to the aid of the fallen performers.
The lights were quickly dimmed after the fall, making it difficult to see what was happening on the floor.