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Our ever-changing roster of inspiring collaborators has included 45 performers and movement creators in a range of shows as well as composers, video artists, poets, and playwrights. Meet some of our friends below.

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.

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Ada Xiaoyu Hao (Co-creator, asathoughtfallsthroughthegapsoftranslation) is an artist, researcher, educator, and curator of PAPRIKA Collective. Embracing collaboration and cross-pollination of various media and genres, including performance, moving image, text, sound, and embodied interaction with technology, her work relates to a practice-based and process-oriented methodology that frequently explores the body as an archive, the multiplicity of the self, and the fabulation of the Other. Her artistic exercises respond to the unknown and uncertainty through performative improvisations, fictioning as method, and relational encounter with people, sound, space, and place.

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 LLC with his wife, Jesse, in March of 2020.

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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 Helmick (Media Artist) 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.

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Grace LaBelle (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 husband and her cat, Mitzy.

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. Dan is currently on the 2022-23 national tour of Frozen performing as Sven.

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