Joan and Dan founded Aura CuriAtlas in 2013 to find magic in ordinary situations presented in unusual ways.
Blending dance, theatre, and acrobatics to tell stories, the company keeps the qualities of lightness (Aura), strength (Atlas), and play (Curiosity) at the center. We value a relationship with our audience that is based on community and an easy exchange of ideas. Our lightheartedness, athleticism, and reliance on physical storytelling make our stories accessible to audiences of many different ages and backgrounds.
Joan Gavaler (Co-Artistic Director) is a Virginia choreographer who 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. She has been invited by over 60 organizations 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 consulting for the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. Joan is a Professor of Dance at the College of William & Mary.
Dan Plehal (Co-Artistic Director) 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.
Mickey Lonsdale (Founding Member and Collaborator) 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. He directs and performs with Westchester Circus Arts and serves as the head of their summer camps. He teaches acrobatics, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, jazz, and conditioning classes and choreographs group and solo competition dances.
Fiona Bradley (Performer) is a handbalancer and acrobat based in Chicago. She completed her Certificate IV in Circus Arts at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Australia. She has a strong focus in dance and theatre in most of her performances and is interested in making many different types of art. She co-founded Semi-Circus, a physical theatre company mixing circus, dance, and theatre with the intent to speak on important social issues. She teaches at multiple circus schools across Chicago.
Sydney Hecht (Performer) is a dance instructor and performer based in Washington, D.C. For fifteen years, she studied ballet, contemporary, tap, modern, theater, and acrobatics with the Company of Tucson Dance Academy. She began performing with the Company at the University of Arizona's Centennial Hall and in various productions with musical artist Tom Booth. She continued training, performing, and choreographing with Orchesis Modern Dance Company at the College of William & Mary and with Leah Glenn Dance Theater. She practices yoga and her style often reflects the various manifestations of energy between ourselves and others. She has taught at schools and dance academies in Arizona, Virginia, and Jaipur, India.
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.
Richie Schiraldi (Performer) is a Chicago-based physical theatre-creator with focuses in movement, dance, physical comedy, and partner/group acrobatics. He holds an MFA in European Devised Performance Practice and is a co-founder of The Whisper Theatre Collective, a devised physical theatre company. He helps run Heels Over Head and has taught circus and physical theater to all ages. He is one half of "Britchie," an acro-storytelling duo with Brittany Price Anderson.
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.