Man on Wire: Philippe Petit set for showcase in virtual performance filmed at UPAC

Philippe Petit at UPAC in Kingston, New York.

Philippe Petit, the high wire artist known for his World Trade Center balancing act, will showcase his craft and career with a virtual video performance filmed at UPAC in Kingston, New York.

Petit in this offering will perform on the tightrope and discuss his career. The performance will be available for viewing on April 1, according to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, sister venue of the Broadway Theater at Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston. “Open Practice,” as it is called, will only be available in Petit’s hometown Hudson Valley, where UPAC is located, due to contractual restrictions.

Admission to watch the 75-minute video is free, but registration is required. A 45-minute school and family matinee is also available. Click here for information.

“Open Practice” comes as the Bardavon, UPAC and venues across the country and around the world remain closed because of restrictions on public gatherings triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

An anchor of the Hudson Valley for more than 150 years, the Bardavon with this offering shows yet again how it is pivoting in these dire times to sustain the arts, nurture the community in times of need and maintain its high profile. The Bardavon during the pandemic has presented virtual arts offerings on YouTube that have reached hundreds of thousands of viewers and raised tens of thousands of dollars.

“‘Open Practice” builds on all of this and also serves as a reminder that while the Bardavon and UPAC have showcased many big acts, Carlos Santana and David Byrne among them, their reach extends beyond live music.

“‘Open Practice’ gives audiences front row seats to observe Petit’s creative process and the origins of many of his unique walks and moves on the wire,” reads bardavon.org. “Beautifully shot in the majestic Ulster Performing Arts Center, the show leaves audiences marveling at Petit’s mastery of his art, enchanted by anecdotes from his life and intrigued by his thoughts on creativity, risk, and what he calls ‘cheating the impossible.'”

Petit, who has conducted more than 80 high wire walks around the world, has practiced almost daily for the last 55 years. His most memorable feat was without question the infamous and illegal walk he took between the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. That caper was chronicled in his book, “To Reach the Clouds,” upon which the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary “Man On Wire was based.

According to bardavon.org, Petit, the author of eight books, is currently working on his autobiography. He travels the globe to give lectures; he directs plays; performs a one-man show; and leads master classes on tightrope walking. And he continues to strive for groundbreaking achievements on the tightrope. He hopes to walk on an inclined cable amid the giant sacred stone Moai on Easter Island. And he would like to do the same between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in Australia.

In 1974, Petit led a posse of trespassers to the top of the Twin Towers.

“A memorable event in the life of the World Trade Center came in the summer of 1974, while the still-unfinished (and largely unrented) towers were courting financial disaster and facing a barrage of architectural and social criticism,” reads pbs.org. “In the course of a single morning, the unexpected — and illegal — actions of a daring young Frenchman and a few of his confederates would do more to change public opinion about the troubled billion-dollar project than anything else in its first years of existence.”

The Bardavon described this feat in a different way.

“Twelve people have walked on the moon, but only one has walked a wire between the Twin Towers,” reads bardavon.org.

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