Joan  Gavaler

Professor of Dance

Office: Adair Hall 401
On Leave: Fall 2017-Spring 2018
Email: [[jsgava]]
Phone: (757) 221-2785

Areas of Specialization

Dance Choreography and Performance, Theatre Choreography and Movement Direction, Alexander Technique, Contact Improvisation, Physical Theatre


Joan Gavaler is a performer, choreographer, and educator. She relishes the creative process and embraces collaborative discovery in making new work. To further that interest, she co-founded Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre in 2013 to create performances blending dance, theatre, and acrobatics to tell stories. Over the past four years, the company has toured the East Coast and the Midwest United States and is currently preparing for its Spring 2018 tour.

Through her career, Joan has created over 60 original works and has been a driving force behind four professional companies. She has collaborated with poets, visual artists, composers, musicians, actors, directors, acrobats, and physicists on multiple dance and theatre projects. She has been invited by over 40 organizations to perform and teach in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including presentations on the Alexander Technique in Lugano, Switzerland, a two-week dance residency at Beijing Normal University, presenting choreography in American Dance Guild showcases in New York City and at Dance Place in Washington, D.C., being named an AAHPERD Distinguished Guest Artist, and serving as a movement consultant for the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. She has received multiple project grants for Gavaler Danceworks (1990-1996) and Aura CuriAtlas (2013-present), most recently from Virginia Commission for the Arts, Williamsburg Area Arts Commission, York County Arts Commission, and Junior Woman's Club of Williamsburg. 

Joan works to create a supportive and challenging atmosphere for students within and outside the classroom. She teaches collaboratively with colleagues and has developed new courses including History of American Vernacular Dance, Contact Improvisation and Partnering Principles, Alexander Technique, and Introduction to Physical Theatre in addition to teaching Dance Composition, modern and ballet technique, and mentoring undergraduate choreographers and theatre artists. Her expertise has been sought for external program and faculty reviews, performance adjudication, and board membership in professional organizations. She served as Department Chair for Theatre, Speech, and Dance from 2009-2014.

Current Courses

Dance Composition I and II, Alexander Technique, Physical Theatre, all levels of modern and ballet technique

Student Advising

Dance Minors, Performance Ensemble, William & Mary Theatre, Interdisciplinary Studies