Richardson — As Tiffanee Arnold mentioned in her pre-show speech, attending the premiere of a company is a rare, special opportunity. These words from Full Circle Dance’s Founder and Artistic Director made me pause in reflection — sparking a feeling of gratitude and honor. Being in attendance of a new company’s premiere is one thing but offering a critical review of an artists’ fresh endeavor is both thrilling and daunting. While I’ve been exposed to Arnold’s choreography during my time at Collin College (where she is a Full-Time Professor of Dance), I was pleased to find that this leap into her own creative outlet revealed more mature, developed concepts.
For The Premiere, the company took their name seriously — adding circular themes, movements, and ideas to every one of their pieces. Beginning with We are but in Drifting Circles, swirling arms, waving upper bodies, and luscious head rolls permeated the space. This soft opening displayed Arnold’s harmonious aesthetic and close relationship to musical accompaniment. Even-rhythmed hand gestures from the first section wove themselves in between lofty spins and malleable extensions. The serene atmosphere produced a gentle welcome.
Full Circle Dance is comprised of Arnold’s former students, professional colleagues, and Dallas artists — offering a mix of varied backgrounds and experiences. As with any newly formed group, cohesive, trusting relationships amongst the movers takes time and experience both. While moments of clear focus and togetherness took some time to fit together in the first work, the cast ran, slid, and turned with refreshed unity in Topography. Bouncy jogs paired with springy percussive music propelled the dancers away from the uplifted tone of the first number and into the piece’s fierce energy. A playful quality emerged thanks to Arnold’s twitchy halts and lazy upper body melts, providing a satisfying contrast to traditional leaps and balances.
Shifting into new territory once again, Life: Creation, Conception, & Beyond strayed from the more ambiguous themes of the first works by incorporating narrative. Divided into three distinct sections, the piece began by stepping back in time to “The Creation of Eve” — a mysterious, unsettling solo from Jessica Tenhet. Moving strictly along a diagonal pathway, she evolved from a dimly lit, seated pose facing away from the audience to jerky standing collapses and thrown limbs. Wearing nothing but nude undergarments, the focus remained on Tenhet’s stressed, tense muscular holds and buckling releases — exuding feelings of desperation and curiosity.
“The Conception” revealed a lighter tone through elevated postures and floating turns. Here, new life manifested in a literal way as soloist Bianca Rebello’s actual baby bump swirled from one side of the stage to the other.
While the first two solos shared a consistent theme, the third movement “Beyond Life Support” seemed to embody a different narrative. As the first group section of the work, a curtain rose to reveal four full-length mirrors atop four pairs of extended legs. Bright spotlight props amid dim stage lights and the black, minimalist costumes harnessed the heavy, solemn atmosphere of this new world. In some of Arnold’s most engrossing choreography, the movers wobbled in unsteady planks, stirred bent elbows in quick circles, and launched into controlled explosions of unison phrases. Their frantic runs back and forth halted as dancers caught glimpses of their figures in the mirrors — seeming to distrust their reflections. While this section proved to be the most captivating work of the night, I questioned its relevance and connection to the first two movements.
Finishing the premiere with a five-sectioned work, the company returned to the circular motifs form the beginning in The Ripple Effect. With draping shoulders and gentle guiding hands, the cast softened into a pulsing energy. Snaking sways and rippling lifts gave way to swooping traveling phrases — highlighting Arnold’s ability to mold her visuals into breathy spatials dependent on continuously flowing formations. Occasionally, classical jete leaps and traditional modern steps broke this fluidity and brought focus to the technical excellence behind the choreography. The Ripple Effect closed the show by displaying one of the company’s most appealing qualities: the vibrant resilience behind a fresh-faced group of dancers matching dynamic and emotional qualities—even in individual moments.
Full Circle Dance offers Dallas audiences a view of contemporary modern dance that focuses on visual appeal and complex staging, while still staying true to a combination of traditional modern values. This successful premiere is just the beginning — as Arnold’s work continues to grow, I only see a bright future for the young company.