"It is with immense sadness that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group reports that a tragic accident occured last night, March, 17, during a performance of its show VOLTA, in Tampa, Florida," the statement read. "While he was performing the aerial straps number, long-time aerialist Yann Arnaud, fell onto the stage. Emergency procedures were immediately activated and Yann was transported to the nearest hospital, where he later passed away from his injuries."
The statement included a quote from the President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, Daniel Lamarre.
"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy," he said. "Yann had been with us for over 15 years and 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 our employees, especially the VOLTA team, as we go through these difficult times together."
"We are currently gathering more information about this tragic event," the statement went on. "We are offering our full and transparent collaboration to the authorities as they look into the circumstances of this accident."
The group also cancelled the final two shows of VOLTA, which were both scheduled for Sunday, March 18, at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. They were also meant to be in Tampa.
Arnaud, the veteran aerialist, was an active user of social media. He posted a photo of himself in training shortly before performing his final routine with the group.
"After so much work and training and staging, our straps duo act is finally in the show tonight," he wrote. "It' s time to go for it @pawel_walczewski."
In addition to shots of his work with Cirque du Soleil, Arnaud also posted photos of his young family. He appears to have had a daughter with fellow performer Inna D Gorelova, and fans have poured into her comment section to offer condolences since the accident.
VOLTA is one of the touring shows under the Cirque du Soleil umbrella. It was meant to appear next in East Rutherford, New Jersey, starting on March 29, though it's unclear what the future holds for the show since Arnaud's tragic accident. The company's website still has tickets on sail for VOLTA, starting at $55. The tour schedule currently advertises shows throughout the north east during the summer, and an appearance in Seattle after that.
In an interview with Florida's WFLA, an audience member said Arnaud was "visibly straining to hold onto the rope."1comments
"I saw the two acrobats exchanging glances beforehand and I don't know if one was trying to see if the other was OK," Julian Martinez told the outlet.
"It was awful, you heard all the cries of the audience. There were children there and they were freaking out."