Tightrope walker kicks off 16th edition of Letní Letná by going 35 meters above the Vltava

The annual Letní Letná festival opened with a tightrope walker crossing the Vltava river

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 15.08.2019 12:14:10 (updated on 15.08.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

The annual Letní Letná festival of new circus opened with a tightrope walker crossing the Vltava river. French aerial artist Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga from the French troupe Cie Basinga crossed a 350-meter rope some 35 meters above the river, from in front of the Faculty of Law (Právnická fakulta) to a landing in Letná park.

Rain earlier in the day seemed like it might hinder the performance, but it cleared up some 45 minutes before the show and the sun came out. There was ever a partial rainbow just before the show.

Thousands of people turned up to watch along the bridge Čechův most, both sides of the embankment and some vantage points in Letná such as the Metronome.

tightrope above vltava
Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga walks above the Vltava. via Raymond Johnston

The show began at 6 pm, with Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga going up to the rope on a hook from a crane. The “walk in the sky” was accompanied by live avant-garde music. She paused several times to hang from the rope, do splits and other stunts, and when she reached the far end she danced a bit to the music. This is the longest rope walk she has ever done.

Now 35 years old, she has been performing since she was 7. “I will not wear a safety belt, I learned to walk without it,” she told radio station Český rozhlas Vltava.

“There are a lot of things happening on a rope, and I can’t afford to make a mistake, so I have to be as focused on my body as possible. I cannot think about what I said to anyone or what I will buy tomorrow,” she added.

Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga performs a split. via Raymond Johnston
Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga performs a split. via Raymond Johnston

Her mentor was Rudy Omankowsky, who comes from a family of artists with Czech roots.

On her arrival at Letná she solemnly opened the 16th edition of the festival, which runs to Sept. 1. New circus, or contemporary circus, began in the early 1970s and was inspired by street theater. It does not use large animals such as elephants or lions.

Video of the walk can be seen via the Český rozhlas Vltava Facebook page.

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