Total movement

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

As Jessica Tupaexplained, creating one's first full-length work marks a turning point for any choreographer.

"I have toyed with the idea for a long time," she wrote in an e-mail interview. "Up to this point I think I have let things like making a living, scheduling, funding and maybe just plain intimidation get in the way. This piece has been building and brewing for a few years. It seemed like it was time."

The piece to which Tupa refers, Crystalline Continuance: Between Earth and Infinity, builds on at least three short works that Columbus has seen in the past, each of which contributes part of the full title: Crystalline and Continuance, both from 2005, and BEaI: Between Earth and Infinity from 2007.

"All three pieces have always been connected in my mind," Tupa said, though they have been reworked and further developed. Tupa's recently formed company, TUPACO Dance, presents the results in three performances this weekend at Columbus Dance Theatre's Fisher Theatre.

Tupa has collaborated closely on Crystalline Continuance with experimental composer David Morneau, who has been working from New York.

"David and I would discuss what I was trying to depict, what mood, theme, sound and environment," she said. "Somehow out of this he would skillfully conjure up a score for that part Almost every time the music or sound would add layers to the work that I hadn't imagined."

For Tupa, one huge challenge was that the movement was often created before the music, and it had to be readjusted to work together.

"I was able to watch another artist in another medium interpret my 'vision' in his own way and then we allowed it to affect the work," she explained. "The depth and texture the other interpretation added was invaluable."

Tupa had not originally intended to dance in Crystalline Continuance, although she performed in some of its earlier incarnations. "I do not normally like dancing in my group works," she said. "I find that I have trouble dancing well and a lot of trouble 'seeing' the work develop."

Various factors, however, including a shortage of available dancers because of a recent proliferation of local dance companies, convinced her to join Nicole Cafera, Elizabeth Cave, Shelby Laferinere, Stacy Mitchell and Rian Orders on stage.

The Fisher Theatre stage will look different than usual thanks to "large pieces of fabric that create a contained square around the periphery of the stage," Tupa noted. "These create corridors that can be lit along with the stage space. The corridors represent places and times of existence, other planes, a place 'beyond' or 'in-between.'"

After graduating from Ohio State with a BFA in dance in 2001, Tupa stayed in Columbus to dance with Natalie Marrone's The Dance Cure.

"It never seemed like a good idea to go to a bigger city to dance," Tupa explained. "This city seemed, and seems, ripe with the potential of a growing arts community From the time I moved here in the late '90s to now, the number of working modern dance companies here has more than quadrupled. I am excited for the future of dance in Columbus as we move forward."

At least part of this vitality can be attributed to Columbus Movement Movement (CM 2), with which Tupa has long been associated.

By coincidence, the premiere of Crystalline Continuance comes after last week's premiere of Bebe Miller's Necessary Beauty at the Wexner Center. While a student, Tupa worked in OSU's Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, particularly with the Bebe Miller Collection.

"Ah, Bebe Miller's work is brilliant and inspiring," Tupa said. "I think that being immersed in Bebe's work, from the unique standpoint of an archivist, gave me the sense that personal truth is always important, in life and dance. That ties into a broader human experience."

Now it's Tupa's time to fill an evening with truth and experience expressed through movement.