Thursday, July 28, 2011

Totem profiles - Yann Arnaud

Yann Arnaud, age 32, from Chennevieres, France, is an acrobat and a character in Totem. His main act is on the Rings, pictured. Yann is the husband of my aerialist friend Adelaide, and father to Kiana, age 3.

He grew up outside Paris as a very restless and active child. His parents put him in swimming, then soccer, but it wasn't until the age of 10 that he found gymnastics. At first he was just practicing on his own, but soon convinced his parents to let him take a class. His talent came out very quickly - in his first year he was put into competitions. By the age of 11 he was training every day and was on his way to competing at an international level. But at age 14, a back injury sidelined him. Though he didn't stop training completely, he had to greatly cut down his practice for several years.

Yann rebounded, and by age 17 he had won a national championship on the high bar, and integrated into France's national gymnastics team. He met his future wife, Ade, at the national training center; they were married in 2003.

However, at age 21, he injured his back again. He was in a cast for three months. At that point, he decided he was done with competitive gymnastics. He spent a couple of years coaching, but then heard they were looking for acrobats for a show at Eurodisney, and jumped at the opportunity. He discovered that he loved being onstage. When auditions for Cirque du Soleil came through France in 2002, he auditioned. Two weeks later he found himself in Montreal.

He trained for two months in Montreal and joined the cast of O in Las Vegas. He spent two years doing the lyra act in O, and then left Cirque to be part of the creation of Le Reve, Franco Dragone's marvelous Las Vegas water circus production. He spent five years with Le Reve; then it was time for a change, and he auditioned to re-join Cirque du Soleil with Totem.

He's now on a rotation with the Rings act, performing 2 out of 3 shows. And in every show, he is one of the Neanderthal characters. He appreciates, on Totem, the ability to save money on tour - compared to the shows in Las Vegas, where artists pay for their own housing and transportation and food. And he is enjoying being part of the community here, which is more like a big family. Here's my favorite picture of Yann with his little girl.

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