Performers Celebrate Water from Earth and Space
Dancers in Times Square, New York, unite in water-themed choreography to the song "Beyond the Sea," as part of Guy Laliberte's "Poetic Social Mission."
Credit: ONE DROP

This story was updated at 10:12 p.m. EDT.

Artists around the world, and one in space, joined together Friday in an unprecedented performance to celebrate water.

From his perch on the International Space Station, Canadian space tourist Guy Laliberte orchestrated an event of song, dance poetry and acrobatics in 14 cities worldwide. The two-hour show, called "Moving Stars and Earth for Water," was broadcast online at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Oct. 10 GMT) at Onedrop.org.

Laliberte, the founder of circus troupe Cirque du Soleil, staged the event through his non-profit ONE DROP Foundation to raise awareness for water conservation. Performers in each location read part of a poem about water, composed by Canadian writer Yann Martel, author of "Life of Pi."

"Together we can hope to create a change," Laliberte said during the performance. "All for water, water for all."

His co-performers included former United States Vice President Al Gore, actor Matthew McConaughey, singers Peter Gabriel, Shakira and Joss Stone, actress Salma Hayek, and the band U2.

"In order to save the beauty and the habitability of our planet so that we will have fresh water for people? we have to have a worldwide effort to solve the climate crisis," Gore said during the show.

The event began with Laliberte in space, then rotated through segments in Montreal; Johannesburg/Durban, South Africa; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Paris; Mexico City; New York; Sydney, Australia; London; Marrakech, Morocco; Mumbai, India; Osaka, Japan; Santa Monica, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; and Moscow.

Highlights included water-themed Cirque du Soleil performances in Montreal and Las Vegas, a song by the a cappella choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo in South Africa, and Moroccan rappers in Marrakech. In New York, people in the middle of Times Square appeared to spontaneously join in a choreographed dance to the song "Beyond the Sea." There was opera in Sydney, and singing and drumming in Rio De Janeiro. And in Tampa, U2 took a break during a concert to chat with Laliberte on the space station.

"You are the first clown in space and I think it's a great idea," lead singer Bono said, before asking Laliberte to describe to the crowd what it's like to be in space.

"All around me I see stars, I see darkness, I see emptiness," Laliberte replied. "You know what, planet Earth looks so great, but also so fragile. We should not forget that we have a great privilege to live on Earth, that's for sure."

Laliberte is paying more than $35 million to Russia for an 11-day trip to the space station under a deal brokered by the U.S. firm Space Adventures and Russia's Federal Space Agency. He is the seventh person to pay for a trek to the orbiting laboratory, but the first professional artist.

"I am an artist, not a scientist and that is the only way I can make a significant contribution to a mission," Laliberte said. "I decided to use this privilege to raise awareness for the water issue."

Laliberte's globe-spanning performance comes just before his planned to departure from the International Space Station. He is due to leave the orbiting laboratory late Saturday and return to Earth alongside two professional astronauts ? an American and a Russian ? early Sunday.

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