Yann Arnaud, an experienced Cirque du Soleil aerialist, has died after falling during a performance in Florida on Saturday night. The 38-year-old began to lose his grip during a performance of the VOLTA show and fell in front of a horrified audience. He was brought to a hospital in nearby Tampa but was unfortunately declared dead later that night.
Arnaud had worked with Cirque du Soleil for over 15 years and was said to be one of the troop’s most experienced performers. Daniel Lamarre, the company’s president, said in an interview with Reuters that he was “surprised” that this had happened to Arnaud, considering his experience. The entire company is said to be “devastated” by the tragedy, and in a statement issued on the Cirque du Soleil Twitter page, they are said to be “currently gathering more information” and “offering full and transparent collaboration to the authorities”.
— Cirque du Soleil (@Cirque) March 18, 2018
Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical production in the world and has won numerous awards for its shows, including daytime Emmys and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But this is not the first time that the production has encountered controversy. Arnaud joins two other performers who died while working with Cirque du Soleil. Oleksandr “Sacha” Zhurov died in 2004 after an accident during a training session and Sarah “Sasoun” Guyard-Guillot, died during a performance in Las Vegas in 2013.
The remaining VOLTA shows in Tampa have been cancelled pending an investigation into Arnaud’s death. It remains to be seen if the accident will negatively affect Cirque du Soleil’s popularity in future. The production company has been in operation for over 30 years, founded in Montreal, Canada in 1984. It has gone from strength to strength since then, but with a third death during a performance, the show may suffer in future.