Motivational Speaker & High Wire Artist
Philippe Petit, universal poet laureate of the high wire, was born in France and took his first steps on the wire at age 16. He learned everything by himself while being expelled from five different schools. Performing on five continents, he taught himself Spanish, German, Russian, and English, and developed a keen appreciation for architecture and engineering. Using his wire to extend the boundaries of theater, music, writing, poetry and drawing, he has become an inimitable high wire artist. Read More >
TEDTalk: The Journey Across the High Wire
Philippe Petit just came up with a new format of the classic quasi-theatrical lecture with props and re-enactments that he has presented over the past few years... Read More >
It is —as he describes it— “Simpler, freer, more down to earth and more directly aimed at the people in the room. I reduced the number of props and I replaced some of the rehearsed monologues and demonstrations by total improvisation involving the audience all the way to the end.”
He still begins with how he learned by himself magic, juggling and the high-wire, but after addressing the World Trade Center walk, he suddenly turns to the audience and asks questions!
From there on, without abandoning the frequent returns to the drawing board to sketch or write, Philippe’s presentation becomes an energetic exchange fed by his amazing life. If need be Philippe will still use a prop or mime a short scene— but there is no structure, no strings attached: imagine a Q&A that does not feel like a series of answers, but rather like an illustrated stream of free associations.
Just returning from an engagement in Florida, Philippe received his first reaction to the new format: “I’ve seen your lecture last year and it was great. But tonight, it was five times better. You were with us every second, celebrating life.” Read Less ^
Since well before his epic 1974 walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, Philippe Petit had become an artist who answered first and foremost to the demands of his craft — not only on the high wire, but also as a magician, street juggler, visual artist and writer. A born rebel like many creative people, his outlaw sensibility has spawned a unique approach to the creative process, making him an inspiration to all who dare to dream of the seemingly impossible.
Inviting others to enter into the experience of creating, Petit discloses, with characteristic enthusiasm, irreverence and originality, new and unconventional ways of going about the artistic endeavor. From generating and shaping ideas to practicing and problem-solving to pulling off the “coup” itself, the strategies and insights Petit shares will resonate with performers of every stripe and also with seemingly non-creative people in search of fresh ways of tackling the challenges and possibilities of everyday existence. Get a glimpse into the remarkable mind of someone who accomplishes creativity by thinking and doing differently than others.
Philippe Petit is renown as a master story-teller. It helps that all his tales are true and hand-picked extemporaneously from a very rich life of mostly self-taught creativity. Read More >
During the course of a single lecture, Philippe will recall (while making sketches) how he learned the wire the wrong way: by gathering several ropes together to make it as wide as possible! He will mime how an unscrupulous juggler sold him misaligned clubs proved “impossible to juggle”. Philippe might reenact a pickpocket experience from his youth, or share a bullfighting secret from the time he was a torero apprentice.
You will laugh when Philippe recalls the “festival of miracles” that had the audience in Israel mistook him for an accomplished dove trainer: by accident, the dove he was presenting on the high-wire decided to land on his head!
You will tremble at the survival evocation of the time when Philippe slid out of control on the ice of Niagara Falls, until a tiny reflex saved his life.
You will marvel at how the sacred statues of Easter Island “walked” to their erecting sites— as Philippe guides a small Moai replica across his lecture table. And you will ponder at the impossible task of making that first step on the wire between the Twin Towers when Philippe relives it on stage in front of you.
Philippe has stories about solving problems elegantly, about conquering your worst fears, learning from your mistakes, pursuing perfection and the importance of believing in myths and magic.
It is the unique nature of those stories and the intensity and enthusiasm with which they are delivered that makes Philippe’s lectures be often mistaken for a one-man show! Read Less ^
"What a remarkable and inspirational event! I have received and continue to receive an overwhelmingly positive response from our leaders. Philippe's mix of passion, creativity, humor, and authenticity was truly inspirational and just what our leaders needed to experience. In addition, Philippe's generosity of spirit was evident, as he spent time eating lunch with the group, chatting with various leaders, taking pictures, etc. From the time spent after his performance, leaders were able to experience Philippe's authenticity and see that his performance wasn't an act, but rather a way of life. The event was a homerun! I'm so happy we were able to make this happen."