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Joan Gavaler

Joan Gavaler (Artistic Director) has been a professional choreographer and teacher for 35 years. She has created over 65 works and been a driving force behind four professional companies. She relishes collaborative discovery and has worked with poets, visual artists, composers, musicians, actors, directors, acrobats, and physicists on dance and theatre projects.  In addition to creating her own work, Joan is passionate about using her experience to mentor and support other artists. Over 70 organizations have invited her to present and teach in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including presentations on the Alexander Technique in Lugano, Switzerland, a dance residency at Beijing Normal University, performances for American Dance Guild showcases in New York City, and movement coaching for the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. She is a Professor of Dance at the College of William & Mary.

Mickey Lonsdale

Mickey Lonsdale (Founding Member) is a freelance teacher and performer based in Stamford, Connecticut.  He has studied and performed in the U.S. and Europe with Alabama Dance Theatre, FLIC Circus School, Familie Floz, Divaldo Continuo, Accademia dell'Arte, and Red Dot Theatre Company.  Mickey earned his M.F.A. in Physical Theatre at the Accademia dell’Arte in Italy. After receiving his M.F.A., Mickey moved to the NYC area where has starred in several independent films, commercials, TV shows, and works as a free-lance dancer/choreographer. Mickey co-founded Circus Splendiferous with his wife, Jesse in March 2020. 


Forty Nguyen (Performer) first started performing in the Urban Dance Festival at the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) cultural center in 2004. He continued performing for the Jazz Festival (2005), Usine C (2005) and TOHU (2006). In 2006, he was part of the cast of "Demain", a piece by choreographer Paula de Vasconcelos of Pigeon International, with whom he performed in Montreal and toured in Columbia. Forty’s style is a mixture of bboying, ballet technique, acrobatics and hip hop. After obtaining his BFA from Concordia’s Contemporary Dance Department, Forty has worked as an interpreter for companies such as Destins Croisés, Cirque Éloize, and Cirque du Soleil.

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Grace Helmick (Videography) is a cinematographer, video editor, and creative enthusiast hailing from Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has grown up surrounded by the performing arts and is passionate about bringing them to a digital stage. She has produced several short films, including “Dear Dad,” which placed as a finalist in the 2018 VHSL Annual Short Film Festival, as well as having more recently dived into video production for dance and movement pieces at the College of William & Mary. She enjoyed working with people from all over the country to create S. L. Feemster's ConFront(ed)

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Ada Xiaoyu Hao 郝晓宇 (b. 1993. Shandong, China) is a performance artist-researcher who works with performance-situtated ontology, fictioning-as-method, body as archive, available technology and instruments to attend time, space and places where she attempts to collapse the desired futures into potential realities. Her multifaceted interdisciplinary exercises playfully negotiate with the subjectivity of the performing body and the mimesis with the fabulation of the Other. Ada has a BA in Theatre from College of William and Mary, US, and an MA in Contemporary Art Practice from Royal College of Art, UK. She has been the director of PAPRIKA, a situational performance collective since 2015, and the board member for Center for Digital Media Cultures, at University of Brighton since 2019. Her recent peer-reviewed paper titled ‘Make this tango viral: Touching toward the untouchable in tele-synaesthesia performance’ (2021) has been published by The International Journal of Creative Media Research’s Issue 5, Digital Ecologies: Fiction Machines, the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 2021’s Special Issue: ‘The World, Two Meters Away’, and Artnodes Journal’s No. 28 (2021): In the limits of what is possible: art, science and technology. She is currently completing a practice-based PhD, titled ‘Being a body and becoming somebody: Embodying Subjectivity Through Performance and Fictioning’, at the School of Art and Media, University of Brighton. In August 2022, Ada will be teaching a series of creative art courses that focuses on the use of multidisciplinary practice and research for children and young people at School of Creative Art, University of Hertfordshire.

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Chris Gavaler (Playwright) has published two novels and six books of scholarship, including mostly recently The Comics Form: The Art of Sequence Images (Bloomsbury 2022). He is a four-time winner of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, which has featured nine of his one-acts. His full-length play The Zombie Life premiered at the Firehouse Theatre in Richmond, Virginia in August 2021. He is an Associate Professor of English at W&L University, where he teaches creative writing and serves as comics editor of Shenandoah Magazine.

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Grace Brown (Stage Management) has been an active member of RVA theatre community for the past 5 years and is excited to be a continuing collaborator with Aura CuriAtlas! She has worked with many companies in the area including Firehouse Theatre, The Lynn Theatre, Cadence Theatre, Virginia Repertory Theatre, and Swift Creek Mill Theatre as a Director, Stage Manager, Wardrobe, Foley Artist, Scenic Assistant, and Sound and Lighting Technician and Designer. Some of her favorite productions include The Zombie Life, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Firehouse Theatre), Sorry, Wrong Number (Lynn Theatre), and Julie, Monster: A Queer Opera (RVA Baroque). She also enjoys spending her days off with her partner and her cat, Mitzy.

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Alex Raposo and Alex McOsker (Social Media) are a wonderful social media team who invented the “Alex Challenge” for Give Local 757 and continue to create Instagram and Facebook content for Aura CuriAtlas. Both Alexes are avid swing dancers and acroyogis. They performed Cinderbox 2.0 during a residency with Lucky Plush Productions at William & Mary. Alex M. (B.S. in Chemistry with Honors, minor in Mathematics) taught swing dance lessons, choreographed and performed with Orchesis, and has performed Etude with Aura CuriAtlas. Alex R. (B.S. with a double major in Mathematics and Data Science) taught swing dance lessons, was the captain of the ballroom dance team, and creates delightful graphic designs on Facebook and Instagram for our shows and events.

Sophia Serghi

Sophia Serghi (Composer) is a Cypriot composer and pianist whose works have been presented internationally including New York City, London, Greece, and Amsterdam. Her music has been performed by Flux Quartet, Oxford Philomusica, Camerata Europaea, Ardelia Trio, Orchestra of Colors, American Composers Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic, Manhattan Piano Trio, Relache, Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, Chilingirian String Quartet, and Cyprus Symphony Orchestra.  She has been a Visiting Professor at Amsterdam University College and at Cambridge University and is currently a Professor of Music at the College of William and Mary and founder and CEO of the Multi-Arts Crossings: MAX LLC in Cyprus.


S. L. Feemster (Co-director and soundscape creator, S. L. Feemster's ConFront(ed)) is a NYC based performer, singer, and published poet. Feemster has enjoyed a career as an actor, physical theatre artist, and teaching artist, appearing regionally, Off-Broadway, and on film. Feemster's debut collection of stories, soundtracks and scripts, titled Up.W(o/a)rds, was published in 2018 and is available for purchase. Selections from Up.W(o/a)rds provide the soundtrack to the new film LENS-MUSE, a collaboration with filmmaker Adam Holoubek. Feemster is also the singer/songwriter for the new alternative soul band JYL, who will be releasing their debut EP later this year.  Up.W(o/a)rds by S. L. Feemster

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Dan Plehal (Co-Founder, Co-Artistic Director: 2013-2022) is a director, performer, and teacher in Chicago.  He specializes in blending acrobatics and theatre, drawing on his work with theatre and dance companies and acrobatic training centers in Europe and the U.S.  He has performed in and directed professional productions ranging from musical theatre to mime to Shakespeare, with companies such as the Walnut Street Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Pig Iron, Gravity Optional, Sinfonicron Light Opera Company, Familie Flöz, Red Dot Theatre, The Home For Wayward Artists, Lifeline Theatre, BoHo Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre.

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