Bartholomew Swims

A dance for a city pool and its people

Forklift Danceworks proudly presented Bartholomew Swims on July 21, 22, 28 & 29th, 2017 at Austin’s Bartholomew Municipal Pool. Featuring City of Austin lifeguards, Aquatics maintenance staff and neighborhood residents young and old, the free performances showcased the beauty and skill in the work these employees do to maintain our city pools and keep swimmers safe. For an audience of 2,000+ over two weekends, maintenance workers performed a scuba duet and demonstrated a chemical test in unison. Lifeguards executed synchronized drills from their rescue training and community swimmers jumped off the diving board, accompanied by live drumming.

The audience heard voices of maintenance staff and neighborhood pool users relaying stories of the old Bartholomew Pool and their love of swimming. Audience members were asked to come in their swimsuits and were invited into the dance by holding hands to make the border of the old pool site before it was rebuilt, and by floating in the water in a communal swim. Everyone in attendance was encouraged to be an actor in the dance, offering a practice of shared, embodied civic action taking place in the public space of the city pool.

Mayor Steve Adler, reflecting to the audience after one performance, stated: “This is community—this is Austin.”

View a PDF of the program, including performer bios.

Directed by Allison Orr and Krissie Marty
Music by Graham Reynolds
Production Design by Stephen Pruitt
Audience members said:

“I’m grateful to understand better the work and people who make public pools possible. They are the heart of Austin summers and our community.”

“Pools bring people together from everywhere…to the same water”

“The pools require a lot of care and they are necessary for building and maintaining a socially progressive and healthy community.”

Forklift was honored to have Council Member Ora Houston attend a performance and share this reflection:

“I am not a swimmer and I really enjoyed ‘Bartholomew Swims’. The production shares the unique history of Bartholomew pool and highlights other public pools in the City. More importantly it showcases the amazing employees the Aquatics Division including those who find and plug water leaks; insure that water quality standards are met; teach young and old to float and swim; execute passive and active rescue techniques; and most of all members of the community who use our pools on a daily basis. Take a towel, flip flops, swim suit and you too may be able to participate in the production. It is free and it is fun!”

Bartholomew Swims launched My Park, My Pool, My City—Forklift’s three-year artistic collaboration with PARD Aquatics Division, aimed at highlighting the value of our city pools while inspiring Austinites from across the city to work together to tackle the complex issues facing our aquatics system. Click here to learn more about the project and find out what’s happening now!
A special thanks to our sponsors & partners:
Reagan High School
Windsor Park Neighborhood Association
This project is funded and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town program, an Engaging Dance Audiences grant, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department believing that an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Engaging Dance Audiences is administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.