Williamsburg dancer pulls together a far-flung company for the coming year

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Dancer Joan Gavaler of Williamsburg has teamed up with partner Dan Plehal and two other artists to create a new performing company, Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre.

Gavaler, who teaches dance at the College of William and Mary, describes the company as combining "dance, theatre, and acrobatics into a new form of creative storytelling."

Company members are far-flung. Plehal is an acrobat and theatre artist living in Chicago; Mickey Lonsdale lives in Montgomery, Ala., and Jane Rabinovitz is a dancer and choreographer in the Washington, D.C., area.

The group's initial performances will take place Aug. 29-31 in Chicago. In the coming year, they'll perform April 24-25 in Washington, D.C., and May 9 in Williamsburg. "We're also looking into venues in Montgomery, Boston, Lewisburg, Philadelphia, Richmond and other cities for the upcoming year," says Gavaler.

You can follow them online at ACPhysicalTheatre.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/auracuriatlas.

CW early music fest

"From England to America: Music, Musicians and Musical Events in Colonial Virginia" is the topic of Colonial Williamsburg's Early Music Festival taking place Sept. 23-26.

This four-day festival includes performances on rare instruments such as 18th-century violins, a 16th-century viola and an 18th-century violoncello, as well as the Governor's Palace harpsichord and organ, which also date to the 18th century.

Selections will include music from the surviving inventory of music teacher and London concertmaster Cuthbert Ogle, who briefly resided in Williamsburg in 1755. Performers include the members of Colonial Williamsburg's resident ensemble, The Governor's Musick, and guest artists.

The Wednesday, Sept. 24 concert at the Capitol will feature music for several violas de gamba played together. Sept. 25 offers "Thomas and Sally," an evening of musical theater first performed in Williamsburg in 1770. In this fully-sung play, Sally must resist the advances of the squire as she waits for her Thomas to return from the sea.

The closing night of the festival will feature a spectacular re-creation of a 1766 concert held in Fredericksburg with the largest advertised ensemble ever to perform in 18th-century Virginia. The performance features 10 musicians on full strings, flutes, oboe, horn and harpsichord, and concludes with a reception — just as it did in 1766.

Single tickets range from $5 to $35. Program details, locations and tickets are available by calling 855-296-6627 or visiting Colonial Williamsburg's website at colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/calendar/early-music-fest/

Nutcracker auditions

Richmond Ballet is returning to Hampton Roads with its production of "The Nutcracker" in December. Performances will take place Dec. 12-14 in Norfolk's Chrysler Hall.

The company will hold local auditions Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6-7 at the Todd Rosenlieb Dance studio, 325 Granby St., Norfolk. Minimum audition age is 7 for girls and 9 for boys, and students only need to attend one day of auditions. Here's the schedule:

•4-foot-6 and under: 1:30 p.m. registration/measurement, 2 p.m. audition

•4-foot-6 to 4-foot-9: 2:45 p.m. registration/measurement, 3:15 p.m. audition

•4-foot-9 to 5 feet: 5 p.m. registration/measurement, 5:30 p.m. audition

•Over 5 feet: 6 p.m. registration/measurements, 6:45 p.m. audition

Students should bring pointe shoes to this audition. Some children may be asked to stay for the next audition time.

The audition is free, though there is a performance fee for students who are cast in the production. Financial aid is available.

Additional information is available by emailing rweger@richmondballet.com.

Norfolk Arts Partnership

Three major arts organizations based in Norfolk have teamed up to offer ticket deals.

The Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Opera and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra have developed a partnership to offer tickets to all three organizations when you become a member of one. Patrons who purchase a season membership to any of the three receive a free ticket to the other two organizations.

"It's a great perk to becoming a member and it also allows existing arts lovers to venture over to other venues," said Janelle Burchfield, the stage company's marketing director.

Arts fest recap

The Virginia Arts Festival presented 77 performances, made up of 41 ticketed and 36 free events, during its 2014 season that ran April 2 through May 29, according to the organization's final report. The festival's 78,000 audience members came from 46 states and 12 countries.

The festival also reported that its education department sponsored student matinees, in-school performances and master classes that reached 34,211 students. Among the companies who participated in these events were Dance Theatre of Harlem, Miami String Quartet and performers in the Virginia International Tattoo.

The 2014 season also launched a three-year residency with Dance Theatre of Harlem, which played two sold-out performances in Norfolk's Chrysler Hall, organizers said. The company, which bounced back from a 10-year hiatus due to financial difficulties, will return to Hampton Roads during the 2015 and 2016 festival seasons for a series of public performances, student matinees, master classes, workshops and mentoring with local student dancers.

Another festival highlight was the world premiere of an original movie score to the silent film, "Ben-Hur," composed by Stewart Copeland, former drummer of rock band The Police. A screening of the film was accompanied by an orchestral performance of Copeland's music.

Information about the 2015 festival will be posted on the festival's website at vafest.org.

David Nicholson can be reached at 757-247-4794.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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