Tarocco 2016

TR Main

Premiering one hundred years after World War I…

The Italian tradition of the Comedia dell’arte grows strange wings in Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale– a mesmerizing fusion of circus arts, dance, mask-and-puppet theater, original music, elaborate costumes, and lushly animated video. Tarocco tells the story of an Italian WWI infantryman, trapped behind enemy lines after barely escaping the gas attacks at Caporetto. To pass the time, the soldier comforts a dying comrade with stories using the images from an ancient deck of playing cards known as the Tarocco Piemontese (a predecessor of modern Tarot cards). What follows is a spellbinding and dark narrative based on the Fool’s Journey of the Tarot.


The Magician… The Hanged Man… Death…

Each new card brings to the stage a mysterious character from the Tarocchi, leading the doomed soldier through twenty-one wondrous labyrinths of the human imagination. Opening on the centennial of Italy’s entry into WWI, Tarocco blends history and fantasy into a wholly new kind of theatrical experience. Handmade Venetian costumes adorn incredible circus artists and dancers in each breathtaking act. Nashville composer Marcin Bela performs with Miami vocalist Lisa Harkness, and Alexander Daniloff’s stunning, hand-drawn Tarocco Piemontese are woven into the incredible nonstop animation of Colorado’s Dreambox Workshop. Moving backdrops, giant puppetry, aerial acrobatics, ballet, and more…Tarocco is an experience not to be missed.


“This is no Cirque du Soleil. It’s better.”

— Triangle Arts & Entertainment






Ross Daniel
The Fool
Ross Daniel received his BA in Theater from Georgia College and State University, and is currently a MFA candidate in Dance and Choreography at Florida State University where he received a scholarship to study at the Martha Graham School of Dance. He has served as an instructor in the Florida State University School of Dance, and served a teaching artist residency at Lexington Children’s Theatre, Troy University, and DeSales University Summer Dance Intensive where he choreographed Shrek the Musical, The Jungle Book, t7ib, and Say Polite 5X Fast (an adaptation of material based on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman). Ross is pursuing a career as a performer and choreographer and showing work at Art Basel in Miami Florida, Florida State University, Troy University, ACDA, Orlando Fringe Festival, and Chicago Fringe Festival.
Airia Anton
Dance & Prop Manipulation
From an early age, Airia Anton has pursued her love of theatrics through numerous dance styles to create a multitude of vivid theatrical performances from Michigan to North Carolina. Emerging from Ferris State University's Theater program, Airia went on to found (and then direct, choreograph, and perform for) dance troop Rama's Harem for three years in West Michigan addressing topics such as gay marriage, war, depression, and anti-consumerism. Since moving to Asheville, Airia has begun creating Satya Kali, a new dance troop that will pick up where Rama's Harem left off. When not working on a show or teaching dance, she can most likely be found in the garden.
Amanda Atkins
Dance & Prop Manipulation
Amanda Atkins, from Kernersville NC, has been studying a wide variety of dance since she was very young. Her training, however, took a radical turn when she was handed a hula hoop in 2012. After being introduced to the fire community in Boone NC, she immediately began performing with Inspiral Fire Tribe, and started picking up other props such as poi, dragon staff, mini hoops, and contact staff. Recently she joined Asheville-based GoFlow as an instructor, a local organization that teaches prop manipulation and other circus arts to area youth.
Marta Brown
Dance & Acrobatics
With a strong technical background in dance and competitive gymnastics, Marta started her circus career performing in student led productions of OCircus! at Oberlin College. After graduating, she moved to Seattle to teach and train at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts. In the past four years Marta has performed acrobatic feats with various circus companies along the west coast including Circus Bella, the Acrobatic Conundrum and IMPulse Circus Collective. In 2014 she performed at the first annual Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival as part of the Acrobatic Conundrum production, “The Way Out” and in 2015 she returned to the festival performing her solo Cyr wheel act and duo hand to hand act in the Third Coast Cabaret. Marta enjoys flying through the air, spinning in circles on her Cyr wheel, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Jay Clement
Gymnastics & Aerial Acrobatics
J. Clement grew up dancing competitively in Northwestern Pennsylvania, practicing a diverse range of styles with an emphasis on Hip Hop and Acrobatics. At a young age he saw his first contemporary circus show, inspiring him to take to the air. After several months of recreational classes at The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Mr. Clement's teachers encouraged him to apply to NECCA’s professional training program. He went on to complete both the Intensive program and the Pro Track program. He now resides in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jesse Nielsen
Jesse Allen Nielsen began his gymnastics life while jumping on a trampoline in his parent's back yard at the age of 3 in Nairobi, Kenya. His mom and dad (his first coaches), taught him the basic skills and techniques of jumping, flipping, twisting, and turning. Eventually his skills were taken to a gymnasium floor where acro-sport maneuvers were introduced. Jesse has won numerous gymnastics performance awards and traveled with Mount Pisgah Acrosport. Jesse continues to pursue acro-sport and gymnastics as both a sport and artistic expression.
Melanie Paulos
Prop Manipulation
Melanie Paulos, an Atlanta based artist, is thrilled to be joining the cast of Tarocco as a prop manipulator and facilitator. In both her performing and visual arts, her work typically focuses on intent and interaction, playing with line, shape, and dynamic structure.
Brittany Randolph
Contortion & Aerial Acrobatics
Brittany Randolph began her career in performing arts at the age of 8 as a baton twirler. She later moved to Los Angeles and while attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts she began training in pole, aerial arts and contortion. She performs a wide range of acts such as fire baton, lyra, contortion, trapeze, acro, silks and pole. She is currently travelling across the country with her husband, two dogs and three cats in their Rv.
Matt Reyna
Prop Manipulation
Matt Torch Reyna has been performing since first grade when he joined a traditional Mexican/Aztec dance group, enamored by their decadent colors and wild music. This had transformed into many more styles by the time he reached high school, including studies in hip hop, contemporary, and traditional Hawaiian dance. After high school, Matt left to travel the United States, where he first discovered the thriving subculture of fire spinning in California's Mojave Desert. He hasn't stopped since. Matt has performed all over North and Central America, including onstage at festivals such as Symbiosis, Desert Hearts, Lucidity, Lightning in a Bottle, Once Upon a Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Northern Nights, and Earth Dance.
Clara Zander
Dance & Contortion
Clara Zander has been dancing since she could walk, and has studied and performed ballet, modern, and jazz all her life. In high school, Clara was accepted into Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s pre-professional program on scholarship, giving her the opportunity to learn from legends like former Martha Graham company member Penny Frank, Robert Atwood, and past and present Ailey Company members such as Hope Boykin and Renee Robinson. Currently, she is a soloist with the Asheville Ballet as well as pursuing a double major in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College.



The feature-length score of Tarocco is written by Nashville composer/producer Marcin Bela and mixed/mastered by Grammy-award winning audio engineer Kyle Ginther. The album features the vocal talents of Lisa Harkness. 

The Tarocco score is available for purchase on compact disc and digital download. If you would like to reserve a copy, please email us.

Tarocco OST Front Cover



Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale was truly honored to have partnered with Russian/Italian artist Alexander Daniloff, who has been fascinated with the Tarot for years and created several stunningly gorgeous sets. Our show featured Daniloff’s Major Arcana from 2012 to animate its story and introduce every scene in the show, as well as original poster art. 

Daniloff’s work is available for purchase through his website. You may also follow his work with the Tarot on Facebook.

TR Crew



Writer/Producer/Director      |      Nat Allister

Assistant Producer      |      Torey Jones

Technical Director/ Light Design    |    Mike Mauren

Composer     |     Marcin Bela

Vocals     |     Lisa Harkness

Animation    |     Sarah Winters

Stage Managers     |     Phil Huber, Morgan Markowitz, Beth Ziegler

Rigging     |      Gregory Sadler

Choreography     |      Leslie Rogers, Sara Baird, Kristi Deville, Cassie Drew

Costuming     |      Amelia Gilley, Ambra Lionstone, Sara Legatski, Sara Baird

Set Design     |     Rebecca Melstrom

Puppetry    |     Rebecca Melstrom, Gilberto Sibrian, Julie Vann, Jennifer Murphy

Concept Art     |      Alexander Daniloff




Art by Christian Jaxtheimer

Fox & Beggar Theater