Just before Cirque du Soleil aerialist Yann Arnaud took to the stage in what would be his final performance this weekend, the married father shared a heartfelt Instagram post about the difficult stunt that would lead to his death.
“After so much work and training and staging, our straps duo act is finally in the show tonight,” Arnaud wrote alongside a black and white shot of himself practicing the stunt. “It’s time to go for it.”
During the Saturday performance in Tampa, Florida, Arnaud lost his grip on an aerial ring and plunged some 20 feet to the stage just before 10 p.m., according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was rushed to a local hospital where he died early Sunday. In a statement, Cirque du Soleil officials called the incident a “tragic accident,” and noted that Arnaud had been with the organization for more than 15 years.
Arnaud, who was originally from Champigny-sur-Marne, France, and living in Miami, performed the straps act along with fellow aerialist Pawel Walczewski. Walczewski, too, posted about the difficult number on Instagram, writing, “After a long road ready to perform tonight a straps act with @yannarnophoto.”
Arnaud leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Along with photos of his performances, Arnaud’s social media accounts are filled with shots of his wife Inna Gorelova, their 2-year-old Lilia and Arnaud’s older daughter. In one shot, Arnaud is shown tossing Lilia into the air; in the post he called her is “little acrobat.”
A September Instagram video shared by Gorelova showed Lilia playing with a plush duck. Arnaud couldn’t help but gush about his daughter in the comment section, writing, “My little princess growing so fast😘💖.”
In the wake of his death, Arnaud’s friends and fellow performers have mourned his passing in a series of social media messages. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Erica Madrid recalled working with Arnaud, calling him a “strong role model for many.”
“My heart aches for you, those who were around you and close to you, and most of all for your loving, beautiful family, so I feel the need to say something,” Madrid wrote.
“You were such a respectable, hard-working, talented individual. I am honored to have worked with you from when we were first beginning training to figuring out the name of the show and eventually to its premiere.”
Performer Simon Ata shared a pair of Facebook photos that featured Arnaud, describing him as “An amazing friend, performer, photographer and human being.”
On Monday, another friend wrote in another post that Gorelova and Lilia were Arnaud’s “world.”
“The world has lost an amazing artist, father, and husband,” the user, Joanna Borres, wrote. “In such shock over this devastating news. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to work you.”