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Columbus-Based Baby Dance Club Reaches Global Audience 

by Mandy Shunnarah

A person of light skin tone sitting at a computer with a webcam on a video call.
Photo Credit: Leiland Charles
Russell Lepley of Flux + Flow greeting all the dancers and their babies who are joining virtually from around the world for Baby Dance Club. There's a laptop setup in the dance studio so students can follow along with the live stream.

Dance studio Flux + Flow brings caregivers and their babies together to gently move, proving it's never too early to start dancing.

When partners and professional dancers, Russell Lepley and Fili Pelacchi adopted their baby, Charlie, and started gently dancing with him as a soothing method, they had no idea it would spark a global dance phenomenon with dozens attending in-person classes at their studio, Flux + Flow in Columbus, Ohio, and many more tuning in virtually from Chile, Germany, Holland, India, Italy and more.  

“We have people from all around the world and all over the US. I love thinking about how many people are dancing at once, because it’s not just the caregivers, it’s also the babies! So if there are 40 people signed up for class, that means there are 80 people dancing together, and that’s really beautiful,” Lepley says.  

After spending hours dancing in the kitchen with their newborn, Lepley thought this was something they could share with other parents, caregivers, and babies. The couple wanted to see more caregiver-centered community activities where babies could be supported and caregivers could get some much-needed self-care simultaneously. 

“It felt great to move my body, but even more than that it felt great to connect with other folks also in the throes of the newborn stage.”

A person of light skin tone cradling a rolled-up blanket.
Photo Credit: Leiland Charles
Co-owner of Flux + Flow, Russell Lepley, dancing with a rolled-up blanket that he uses to teach the class. This allows him to focus on the students and their babies. Plus, his baby is dancing with his other parent.

“Being a dance teacher,” he says, “it was just a logical extension to create an offering and not dance alone [with Charlie]! I had hoped that it would do well in Columbus, but I was surprised by how much it seems to be a need in the world and our global community.” 

That’s how Baby Dance Club was born this past April. Focusing on infants 0 to 6 months old, the class includes 30 minutes of gentle movement with caregivers holding their babies—which is a good workout when you consider that the caregivers are dancing with 7-plus-pound weights in infant form. The babies benefit from the class because they’re connecting with their caregivers, who are essentially practicing baby hypnosis. At the crucial 0- to 6-month-old age, the movement is such that the gentle dance moves are all the stimulation the baby needs.

Four people of light skin tone sitting in a dance studio with babies in their laps.
Photo Credit: Leiland Charles
Fili Pelacchi and Charlie socializing with the other dancers and babies during the “hangout” portion of the class.

Afterward, the adults are encouraged to socialize. The community aspect is intentional and crucial—as the couple has found, along with many others, caregiving for infants can be isolating.  

“It felt great to move my body, but even more than that it felt great to connect with other folks also in the throes of the newborn stage,” said Sarah King, a regular at in-person Baby Dance Club classes. “I loved having a little choreo combination to practice and give my brain a break from eat/play/diaper/sleep/repeat!” 

Since the class launched, the response has been overwhelming. Videos of the class have gone viral on Instagram with one receiving 4 million views, another more than 3 million views, and yet another inching toward a million.