Tightrope walking, or funambulism, is defined as “the art of walking along a rope at a great height”. We are used to watching tightrope artists performing in a circus, but… have you ever seen a “rope-dancer”, as they are also called, walking between skyscrapers, important monuments or buildings, or across falls, mountains or other natural landscapes?
That’s impossible, you will answer. Well, it isn’t, I can assure you.
Did you know that a famous Italian “skywalker”, Maria Spelterini, crossed the Niagara falls in 1876? 😉
Actually, she crossed them more than once, and each time she added something new to her performance, making it more and more difficult. Have you noticed in the picture that she’s walking with her feet in baskets? Another time she crossed blindfolded, and later with her hands and feet in handcuffs!!! Isn’t that beyond any possible imagination, at least for those of us who keep their feet on the ground?
I have always been fascinated by this art. I also bought a book on tightrope walking once. Not that I ever thought of giving it a try 😉 It’s just that I feel overwhelmed by feelings of awe and admiration whenever I watch these incredible artists performing, and I simply wanted to know more about it.
There are lots of famous tightrope artists all over the world, and maybe we can write about them in other posts.
Today I’d like to introduce to you the French street artist and “skywalker” Philippe Petit, who succeeded in walking between the two towers of the World Trade Center (yes, the twin towers!) in NY on 7th August 1974.
Here’s a video that presents his incredible performance, which took him more than 6 years to plan in every detail! But he eventually made it 🙂
He later wrote about those years in a book, “Reaching the clouds”, and in 2008 a documentary film was made on his incredible enterprise, “Man on wire” (click on the title to watch the trailer) , which also won the Academy Award (what we call “oscar” in Italian) for Best Documentary in 2009.
Did you know? When Philippe Petit received the award he made a coin disappear in his hands and thanked the audience for “believing in magic”.
Don’t you think what he did is a kind of magic, too? 🙂