High-wire artist Philippe Petit surprised the world when he walked illegally between the Twin Towers in 1974.

Why you should listen

Besides having stretched a steel cable without permission between the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, high-wire artist Philippe Petit is a street juggler, writes, draws, performs close-up magic, practices lock-picking and 18th-century timber framing, plays chess, studies French wine, gives lectures and workshops on creativity and motivation, and was recently sighted bullfighting in Peru. Also, he has been arrested over 500 times … for street juggling.

Petit’s book To Reach the Clouds is the basis of the Academy Award-wining documentary film Man on Wire. His new high-wire project on Easter Island -- Rapa Nui Walk -- is an homage to the Rapa Nui and their giant carved stone statues, the Moai.

Petit is working on his seventh book, Why Knot? He just completed his first series of Master Classes: Tightrope! An Exploration into the Theatre of Balance. He is also hard at work on a new one-man stage show titled Wireless! Philippe Petit Down to Earth.

What others say

“Death frames the high wire. But I don’t see myself as taking risks. I do all of the preparations that a non-death seeker would do.” — Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit’s TED talks

Philippe Petit on the TED Blog

Culture

5 videos of Philippe Petit walking on wire

July 23, 2012

. “An intellectual challenge presents itself ? I am in bliss. Instantly, it brings forth the notion of triumph,” high-wire artist Philippe Petit writes in his new TED ebook, Cheating the Impossible: Ideas and Recipes from a Rebellious High-Wire Artist. “Even before I address a challenge, invariably a rainbow of out-of focus solutions hovers over […]

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Entertainment

Words for a life: Philippe Petit at TED2012

March 2, 2012

Photo: Ryan Lash Philippe Petit is most famous for walking between the towers of the World Trade Center, but he’s done much, much more. At TED2012, he tells a story of the campfires of his childhood. “There was a time when fire and story would fall asleep in unison. It was dream time.” And that […]

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Quotes from Philippe Petit

I was thrown out of five different schools, because instead of listening to the teachers, I was my own teacher.
Philippe Petit
TED2012 • 446K views May 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful
Improvisation is empowering because it welcomes the unknown. And since what's impossible is always unknown, it allows me to believe I can cheat the impossible.
Philippe Petit
TED2012 • 446K views May 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful