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  • Writer's pictureNorah Hunt

The Story of Aura CuriAtlas

Newton's Cradle by Aura CuriAtlas

In 2008, Dan Plehal, a Theatre major at the College of William and Mary, and Joan Gavaler, a Professor of Dance, developed a physical theatre piece with two other students using Contact Improvisation. Rapid Eye Movements was an unusual performance for the Williamsburg community, and it inspired Dan to travel the world and learn even more about theatre, yoga, and acrobatics. He was eager to share with Joan what he had learned, and the two collaborated again in 2013 to create the duet Newton’s Cradle, which has a unique focus on partner acrobatics. Once again, their piece met with great success.

At this point, the two directors decided that their love for physical theatre was a compelling enough reason to create a company that broke new ground by blending dance, theatre, and acrobatics. And so, Aura CuriAtlas was born. In 2013 they officially founded the company, and in January of 2014 the group expanded to include Mickey Lonsdale and Jane Rabinovitz. The company went on to teach classes, offer workshops, and tour their two shows (DREAM LOGIC and A Life With No Limits) around the country. With home bases and intensives offered in both Williamsburg and Chicago, the company is taking the theatre world by storm with their out-of-the-box and creative endeavors.

At the heart of the company is an emphasis on reflecting the qualities illustrated in the name: Lightness (Aura), curiosity (Curi), and strength (Atlas). But what exactly do these traits mean? And how does Aura CuriAtlas stay true to itself?

Lightness. While it is obvious that Aura CuriAtlas prides itself on its work, the company’s ability to stay light and carefree is one of their most endearing qualities. Even while putting in long rehearsal hours and performing acrobatic feats that appear nearly impossible, the members of Aura CuriAtlas still seem to be having genuine fun. Perhaps most evident in their workshops at schools, the company is very much invested in the lightheartedness that comes with doing what one loves.

Krayola by Aura CuriAtlas

Curiosity. The experts of the world, although skilled in a variety of different ways, all have one key trait in common: They stay curious. Aura CuriAtlas is no exception. They constantly try new moves, experiment in different ways, and conduct research to learn what other physical theatre companies around the world are doing. Above all, they are not afraid of putting in hard work to explore and expand upon their knowledge of their art. The company is not stagnant -- it is constantly pushing for greatness.

Strength. The strength of Aura CuriAtlas is reflected in two ways. First, the performers and members must have physical strength to move through the different postures and movements. They must be resolute and uncompromising with their technique. Furthermore, the performers also have to maintain a certain level of mental fortitude as well. Rehearsals are long, performances can be stressful, and exhaustion is always lurking in the background. They must maintain the strength needed to hold themselves to the highest caliber.

The story of Aura CuriAtlas is constantly evolving, but they will always strive to keep these three traits at the core of their work. They will always love what they do, and do it with passion. Be a part of their story!

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