Performers Celebrate Water from Earth and Space

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." (Image credit: ONE DROP)

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

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

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

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

"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 VicePresident Al Gore, actor Matthew McConaughey, singers Peter Gabriel, Shakiraand Joss Stone, actress Salma Hayek, and the band U2.

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

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

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

"You are the first clown in space and I think it's a greatidea," lead singer Bono said, before asking Laliberte to describe to thecrowd 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 alsoso fragile. We should not forget that we have a great privilege to live on Earth,that's for sure."

Laliberte is paying more than $35million to Russia for an 11-day trip to the space station under a dealbrokered 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 thefirst professional artist.

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

Laliberte's globe-spanning performance comes just before hisplanned to departure from the InternationalSpace Station. He is due to leave the orbiting laboratory late Saturday andreturn to Earth alongside two professional astronauts ? an American and aRussian ? early Sunday.

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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.