A stunt at one of America's oldest circuses went horribly wrong on Sunday (04May14) when several performers crashed to the ground after their equipment broke.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus artists were about to perform an aerial act, which features them dangling by their hair, when a wire snapped, bringing the platform they were attached to crashing to the floor of the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Rhode Island.

They were transported to a nearby hospital, and one performer remains in a critical condition, according to Tmz.com.

Bosses of the circus, which has been running in the U.S. since 1884, subsequently cancelled several shows this week (begs05May14) as police investigate the incident.

A statement reads, "During the 11am performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Legends on May 4, 2014 at Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, there was an accident during the hair hang act. All performers in the act received immediate medical attention and were transported to a local hospital for further care.

"The 11am performance was stopped at that time. Performances scheduled at 3pm and 7pm on May 4 and at 10:30 am on May 5 have been cancelled. An investigation has begun into the cause of the accident, no further details are available at this time."