Joan Gavaler and Dan Plehal co-founded Aura CuriAtlas to explore a collaborative model for creating new work. They have been creating with artists from the East Coast and Midwest who come from dance, theatre, and acrobatic backgrounds since founding the company in 2013. After developing DREAM LOGIC, they began collaborating with composer Sophia Serghi to develop two more shows – A Life With No Limits and The Fool and The World. Aura CuriAtlas’ most recent projects move into theatrical and digital storytelling: A new play, The Zombie Life, through Firehouse Theatre to premiere in August and the company’s first digital work, S. L. Feemster’s ConFront(ed), streaming June 30-July 14. 

Blending dance, theatre, and acrobatics, 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

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.

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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

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.  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. He is also a founding member of Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre. Mickey co-founded Circus Splendiferous LLC with his wife, Jesse, in March of 2020. 

Sophia Serghi

Sophia Serghi (Composer, A Life With No Limits and The Fool and The World) 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.

Fiona Wren

Finn Bradley (Performer, A LIfe With No Limits) is a handbalancer and acrobat based in Chicago.  They completed their Certificate IV in Circus Arts at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Australia. They have a strong focus in dance and theatre in most of their performances and have an interest in making many different types of art.  They co-founded Semi-Circus, a physical theatre company mixing circus, dance, and theatre with the intent to speak on important social issues. They teach in multiple circus schools across Chicago.


Forty Nguyen (Performer, DREAM LOGIC) 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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Richie Schiraldi (Performer, A Life With No Limits) 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.