Over the weekend, a Cirque du Soleil performer died after a fall during a performance of Volta in Tampa, Florida. Yann Arnaud, an aerialist, fell to the stage during a stunt and later passed away at a hospital. As one audience member told CNN, “It kind of colors our opinions of what is going on behind the scenes. What is the cost of our entertainment at that point?”
It does have us wondering how dangerous this popular and high-adrenaline show is. Sadly, this isn’t the first Cirque du Soleil casualty, and it’s the second time someone suffered a fatal fall during a live performance.
Sarah Guillot-Guyard passed away in 2013 after falling 50 feet during a performance in the Las Vegas show KÀ. This tragic accident marked the first time a Cirque performer died after an accident in front of an audience. USA Today reported at the time that Guillot-Guyard was suspended from the ceiling by a wire when it snapped and she fell to the stage. The mother of two ran a circus school for kids and had been an acrobat for more than 22 years at the time of her death.
Because of the nature of the incident, Cirque du Soleil and MGM Grand were cited and fined over $25,000 by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The Cirque family has lost two other performers over the years. Oleksandr Zhurov died during a training session at the Cirque headquarters in Montreal in 2009 after falling off a swing. In 2016, crew member Olivier Rochette, whose father Gilles Ste-Croix co-founded Cirque du Soleil, died after being struck by a lift while setting up the stage for Luiza in San Francisco.
We hope Arnaud’s story will inspire Cirque du Soleil to take a close look at its safety measures.