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“We make a political statement every time we take the stage,” says Full Radius Dance founder Douglas Scott of his company. “I ran from this for years because I wanted us to be regarded as artists first, but we’re activists as well.”

Each time the Full Radius artists perform, they challenge society’s concept of who can be a dancer. As a physically integrated dance company with three wheelchair users among its six members, the company creates work for movers of all shapes, sizes and abilities. In its fourth rendition of Up Close & Personal, Full Radius Dance will present new work at the Atlanta Contemporary outdoor pavilion on November 12 and 13. (Performances are free, but reservations are required. In case of rain, the concert will take place inside the Contemporary. Masks are required indoors, and suggested in the outdoor areas.)

Full Radius Dance

Full Radius Dance members Ramsey-Borunov (front) and Sonya Rio-Glick find harmony together.

The two-night performance will feature thoughtful choreography created by Scott and Full Radius Dance company members. “We call it Up Close & Personal because most of the work is very intimate in terms of the number of people on stage,” Scott says. “We hope to create that atmosphere outdoors at the Atlanta Contemporary and share the intimacy we experienced in rehearsal with an audience.”

While there isn’t an overarching theme to Up Close & Personal, the name suggests a raw, honest and human performance. “Our goal is to make our audience experience some kind of emotion,” Scott said of the show. “I think they’re really going to be able to connect with the work, seeing personal connections and seeing dancers touch again.”

After over a year of living with the Covid pandemic, touch can seem like an attribute of a long, lost time.

Solos, duets and a trio constitute a majority of the show, but the company will come together for Undercurrents. A collaboration between Scott and the dancers, it has been a work in progress for a few months.

Scott says it’s emblematic of the performance as a whole. Undercurrents probably sums up the concert the best,” he says of the ensemble piece. “Dancers come and go on the stage, replacing one another, and there’s a series of duets. It’s very personal, and by the end everybody in the company has danced with everybody else.”

Founded by Scott in 1998, Full Radius Dance redefines the boundaries of dance by bringing together disabled and non-disabled dancers. There’s a strong emphasis on body positivity within the company, which has performed locally, at places like the High Museum of Art and 7 Stages, as well as regionally, nationally and internationally. There’s a sense of togetherness that permeates the ensemble, evident in everything from the choreography to the relationship between the dancers. This is exemplified in how the company describes Up Close & Personal: as work created by the company members for the company members.

Instead of approaching the work in a performative sense, Scott says the company worked together to build trust and create work that felt good for them. Both elements are especially important for much of Full Radius Dance’s work, because there’s a lot of innovative partnering between the dancers, an aspect that the company is notable for in the physically integrated dance field.

Scott said he’s looking forward to sharing the work with a live audience after a year of largely virtual performances. “There’s something to be said about dancing in person again,” he says, “particularly in this smaller venue where we’ll be able to see every face in the audience. Dancers feed off the audience — they give you this special kind of energy that you can’t get in the virtual world.”

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NBAFSimona Lucchi is the inaugural ArtsATL Fellow, a year-long annual fellowship designed to mentor a post-graduate aspiring arts writer of color. She is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University with a double major in dance and journalism. Lucchi is also part of the ImmerseATL dance artist program. Her ArtsATL Fellowship is made possible through a generous gift from National Black Arts.

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