An up-and-coming dance company has planted its roots in Columbus, Ohio, and is taking the stage at the Wexner Center for the Arts this week.
Columbus-based dance company, FluxFlow Dance Project, combines mediums of dance, theater and music in the grand opening of its creative work “Ursula,” inspired by Joanna Newsom’s song “Monkey and Bear” premiering Thursday, according to the Wexner Center website.
The performance is comprised of company co-founders Russell Lepley and Filippo Pelacchi and alumna Kelly Hurlburt.
Lepley said he was inspired to use Newsom’s fable as the creative structure for the contemporary performance.
Lepley said the story is about a monkey and bear who escape from a circus hoping to pursue their own ambitions. He said the story takes a turn when the monkey becomes manipulative, essentially recreating the bear’s entrapment and ultimately leading to the bear leaving, forcing the monkey to remain alone to face his inner demons.
“This kind of will to be your own maker rather than someone’s tool is like a similar parallel from our personal narrative, and we feel like it’s something that can connect to an audience because I think most people have had a boss that they probably don’t like very much and have wanted to have their own freedom, probably, so we try to hit all of those points,” Lepley said.
Lepley said he and Pelacchi, his partner, started FluxFlow two years ago to enable their own artistic visions in a career that can be restricting.
“Dance is something that is a very creative career, but it’s also very limited in what your choices are, so another reason why we moved to Columbus besides to start our own company was because we wanted to have more creative autonomy,” Lepley said.
This means integrating his dance and theater background with Pelacchi’s background in dance and music to form one multidisciplinary piece, Lepley said.
Lane Czaplinski, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center, said he chose to feature FluxFlow for the 2019-20 performing arts season as a means of showcasing Columbus’ local talent.
“We have a lot of talented artists in lots of different disciplines who live in the region, and I want to encourage more of that,” Czaplinski said. “I think that if people can see artists from here who have professional careers, and if they see them working and making provocative work, then maybe it’ll inspire other people to do the same.”
In addition to performing and choreographing, Czaplinski said FluxFlow Dance Project has their own dance studio in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus, helping solidify a community of supporters through the people who take classes there.
“They’re unique in that way because they actually have a lot of people in town who are off campus — people in Columbus — who are tremendous supporters of theirs, so that’s why you know each night will be sold out,” Czaplinski said.
FluxFlow Dance Project will perform “Ursula” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Wexner Center for the Arts’ Performance Space. Tickets cost $24 for the general public, $21 for members and $13 for students and can be purchased at the Wexner Center’s website.