Yann Arnaud, a longtime aerialist for Cirque Du Soleil, died after injuries sustained Saturday night in a fall during a performance of Volta in Tampa, Fla.
The company’s official Twitter handle acknowledged Arnaud’s death in a Twitter post, calling the fall “a tragic accident.” Arnaud, a 15-year Cirque veteran, fell to the stage and emergency crews immediately rushed to administer treatment. He was then taken to an area hospital, the company said, where he later died.
“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” Cirque president and CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. Arnaud “was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and employees, especially the Volta team, as we go through these difficult times together.”
The last two performances of Volta in Tampa, the company said, were canceled.
An investigation into the accident is in its early stages, and details are thus far fairly limited. On the Cirque website, Volta is described as “a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves acrobatics in a visually striking world driven by a stirring melodic score.” Sequences in which acrobats swing on long straps have long been a signature element of Cirque shows, and the company brought one to last month’s BAFTAs in London.
Cirque du Soleil has had other accidents in recent years. In 2013, a performer fell almost 100 feet to her death when a safety net failed during a performance of Ka at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. As a result, the state of Nevada fined the company more than $25,000. Three years later, a crew member was killed while setting up a lift in a San Francisco show.
As word spread about the accident that took Arnaud’s life, tributes popped up across social media. Here is a sampling:
Arnaud’s Instagram account showed many of the performances Arnaud was known for, including a solo from Volta:
And here is the official Cirque du Soleil tweet: