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Joan Gavaler

Professor of Dance and Director of Dance Production

Email: [[jsgava]]
Office: Adair Hall 401
Phone: (757) 221-2785
Webpage: {{}}

Areas of Specialization

Dance - Choreography and Performance; Theatre - Movement Direction and Choreography; Physical Theatre - Creation and Performance; Contact Improvisation; AcroYoga; Alexander Technique

Current Courses

Dance Composition I and II, Introduction to Physical Theatre, Alexander Technique, Modern I through IV, Ballet, Performance Ensemble, Independent Projects in Dance

Student Advising

Dance Minors, Interdisciplinary Studies Majors, Orchesis Dance Company, William & Mary Theatre


Joan Gavaler is a Professor of Dance and Co-Artistic Director of Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre. The company is known for its innovative blend of dance, theatre, and acrobatics. Their work embodies the qualities of lightness (Aura), curiosity (Curi), and strength (Atlas) to find enchantment in ordinary situations presented in unusual ways.  Since 2014 Aura CuriAtlas has toured three shows - DREAM LOGIC, A Life With No Limits, and The Fool and The World - to communities large and small in the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern United States. In pivoting during the Pandemic, the company offered free online guided movement workshops for a year and premiered a digital work in June 2021. Aura CuriAtlas will return to the Kimball for a live performance in May 2022.

As a choreographer and movement director, Professor Gavaler has created over 65 original works and been a driving force behind four performing 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 70 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. She co-authored and directed a new play, The Zombie Life, currently running at Firehouse Theatre, Richmond until August 29, 2021.

Her professional expertise is often sought for external program and faculty reviews and performance adjudications. She served as Head of Dance from 2000-2009, as Department Chair for Theatre, Speech, and Dance from 2009-2014, and as Director of Dance from 2015-2017. She is currently Director of Dance Production for the W&M Dance Program and a Fellow in the Studio for Teaching and Learning Innovation.

Curriculum Vitae
Curriculum Vitae