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Piccolo Zoppe Boutique Circus

The Zoppe’ Circus is a traditional tented European family Circus featuring first-class equestrian and additional animal presentations.

The Zoppé family has been producing circuses since 1842, starting on the cobblestone roads of Italy. Ms. Tosca Zoppé, a 6th generation equestrian circus artist, proudly joins her husband, John Walther, to launch a brand new Zoppé production:

Piccolo Zoppé

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A theatrical circus production that revisits a time when Circus was presented in a grand form …

Join us for an unforgettable journey.

Tosca Walther-Zoppé

At three days old, she had her first elephant ride, signaling the beginning of her career; Tosca was performing as a little ballerina on the family’s horses soon afterward. As she grew, she excelled in equestrian artistry. Today she invokes the memories of her Italian ancestors as she performs a devotion to her ancestors of a bygone era. 
She has an innate awareness of the arts and is in tune with today’s society, yet she retains her sincerity and humility. As a sixth-generation equestrian artist, she carries on her rich heritage, renowned for bareback equestrian arts since 1842. Tosca has had an extraordinary life performing a variety of circus disciplines and directing her family’s theatrical production, Circo Zoppé, and continues to be the creative vision behind the Zoppé Circus.
However, her true passion is the preservation and awareness of classical Circus and equestrian arts by creating and directing shows that evoke the love, passion, and dedication of her family’s rich history.
It is essential to her that the audience has a genuine connection to the performers. She believes that it is essential to stir emotion during the show.

​John "Jay" Walther

John “Jay” Walther, aka “Papino,” has worked with the Zoppé family for 26 years this season. Starting as the show sound engineer, John has since worked up to his current position as Technical Director.
John fell in love with and married Tosca Zoppé in 1997. He considers himself the most blessed man in the world with a woman and a job he loves.
He also took on the role of a classic European whiteface clown in 2005. “Being head pooper scooper is a demanding job sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Carla Heinen (Zoppé)

Carla began her career at age three as a ballerina on horseback. As the oldest of Alberto and Sandra’s children, she was responsible for proving her family’s heritage.
Carla made her mark in circus history at 24, building her all-girl equestrian troupe to perform in Baraboo, WI, for the Circus World Museum for seven years.
She performed in aerial acts and many spectacular show productions as a true showgirl. From there, she took the show on the road, working engagements from coast to coast for many different circuses and theater shows. Now she performs with her husband Rudolf and their 16 rescued dogs, all of whom live with them. For Carla and Rudolf, their dogs are everything.

Rudolf Heinen

Rudolf Heinen came from the Heinen Circus in Hanover, Germany, where he performed as a bareback rider with his family and learned to become an animal trainer. He arrived in America in 1963 to travel throughout North and South America with many traveling circuses. He comes from a long tradition of Circus and has found his true passion, working with his dogs. This extraordinary Octogenarian has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Alex Wallenda-Zoppé

Alessandro Wallenda-Zoppe is a seventh-generation circus performer specializing in highwire and juggling. As a toddler, Alex would often sit in his stroller and watch his family perform everything you could imagine. He heard the applause, saw the joy on the faces of the people watching, and from then on, knew that he wanted to join his family and perform in front of an audience. At age seven, Alessandro made his debut on the wire.  
By fourteen, he was the youngest to hold the Wallenda seven-person pyramid. As part of the Flying Wallenda Troupe, Alessandro has performed worldwide, including at the prestigious Monte Carlo Festival, where the family won the silver clown.
For the last two decades, Alessandro has been developing his expertise in juggling. While initially juggling felt like a game, Alessandro quickly noticed that he had a knack for keeping objects off the ground. As juggling props dance through the air, you will not only be amazed by Alessandro’s skill but will also be drawn in by his charisma and love for performing.

Claire Wallenda-Zoppé

Claire Wallenda-Zoppé began her circus career at twelve years old as a member of the St. Louis Arches, an elite youth tumbling troupe. She performed with the Arches from 2005-2013 on Circus Flora (Saint Louis) throughout the United States and Israel.
Claire learned many disciplines within this group, partnering with Elliana Grace thirty feet in the air on the Lyra, and bareback riding with the Ianna Spirit Riders. Claire then spent four years as a member of the Flying High Circus at Florida State University (Tallahassee), where she developed her solo swinging trapeze act. Claire is excited to display her unique beauty, grace, and agility as she sours through the air.

Katja Orlow-Ornstein

Katja Orlow-Ornstein discovered circus arts at age 13 after years of dance and theater training. She took to it immediately and began performing as an acrobat, aerialist, and contortionist with SANCA’s youth company a year later. With them, she performed gig work all over Seattle and the surrounding area at Georgetown Carnival, Tacoma First Night, and Broadway Performance Hall and created two full-length collective circus shows.
She has also worked at Teatro Zinzanni as a performer and educator. She has also taught at SANCA and Circus Smirkus camp. She was given a chance to combine her love of horses, Circus, dance, and theater by working with Tosca and Jay on the Zoppé Family Circus and is thrilled to be a part of Piccolo Zoppé.

Suzanne Santos

Suzanne Santos has been performing in theaters and circuses for 20 years. As an actor, Suzanne toured internationally with the award-winning production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. As an outrageous clown, her credits include Piccolo Zoppé, Circus Bella, Circus Nonsense, Circus Couture, Circus Finelli, The Pickle Family Circus School Tour, The New York Clown Festival, Clowns Without Borders, El Circo Cheapo Cabaret, and Le Carnaval Carmagnole. She has also had the privilege of writing and directing for Dell’Arte Youth Academy, Circus Center, Prescott Circus, CircEsteem, SANCA, Aloft, and Circus Smirkus’ Road Show in Vermont. In addition, she has toured with The Zoppé Family Circus as a member of the horse department. She is delighted and grateful to be a part of Piccolo Zoppé.

Nikolas Strubbe

Nikolas Strubbe is a performer, creator, and teacher of Physical Theatre & Circus Arts. He has performed worldwide with stellar companies, including Circus Avalon, Zoppé Circus, Kelly Miller Circus, We Players, Boxcar Theatre, and Burlesque Idol Australia. In addition, his solo improvised “manic vaudeville” show, The Incredible Feelzo: Man of Moderate Talent.
Nikolas was a featured juggler on Discovery Channel’s MythBusters and has taught workshops & courses through SF Circus Center, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, UC Santa Cruz, Clown Conservatory, Stanford University Live, The Nueva School, and more. Keep in touch via Instagram: @circusnikolas and his upcoming YouTube channel, “The Circus Nomad,” where you’ll find tutorials, exclusive performances, and a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road & in the circus ring.

Dextre Tripp

Dextre Tripp, Slack wire walker, and Dog trainer.
Dextre has performed across the USA with his canine family by his side. Five of his beautiful dogs are female, mixed breed, and were rescued from shelters. His first boy dog, Timber, is figuring out life with all the big sisters.
The dogs enjoy running in the woods, lounging on the couch, and barking at the neighbors when not performing. So if you’re looking for a forever friend, please check local shelters and rescues. Not only will you gain a friend, but you’ll also save a life.

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