Jules Leotard was born in Toulouse, France in 1872. His father was a gymnastics teacher and so it is not too difficult to see why the young Jules showed an interest in gymnastics and, in particular, acrobatics. Although Jules showed great promise as an acrobat, he followed a more traditional path of education towards a professional career in law. However by the time Jules had reached the age of eighteen years, his interest in acrobatics had extended to experimenting with trapeze bars, ropes and rings.Fuelled by a real passion for acrobatics, Leotard enlisted into the Cirque Napoleon, and made his debut public performance on the trapeze in November 1859. Leotard became an overnight success largely due to the fact that he performed a number of unique acrobatic tricks; he was the first performer to perform a mid-air somersault and also the first to leap from one trapeze bar to another.