From sanitation workers to firefighters, Venetian gondoliers to professional baseball players, power linemen to forestry technicians, Allison Orr has been creating award-winning choreography with all kinds of performers for nearly 20 years. Inspired by the beauty and skill in the practiced, habitual movement that people perform in everyday life, Allison’s dances feature the often-overlooked choreography of work that sustains our communities. Challenging audiences to expand notions of dance and performer, her dances have been performed for audiences of 60 to 6,000+.
Allison was named Best Choreographer of 2016 and 2017 by The Austin Chronicle, Most Outstanding Choreographer of 2003, 2008 and 2013 by the Austin Critics Table, one of Tribeza Magazine’s Top 10 Austinites, and one of eight “Extraordinary Texans” by Texas Highways Magazine. Her large-scale work The Trash Project was named a #1 Arts Event by the Austin American-Statesman, #1 Dance Event by The Austin Chronicle, Most Outstanding Dance Concert by the Austin Critics Table. It is also the subject of a feature-length documentary film entitled Trash Dance.
Allison has been commissioned three times by the Fusebox Festival and was the single US choreographer selected by the Kyoto Arts Center as part of the National Performance Network’s Asian Exchange program in 2015. A guest artist for numerous dance programs including Williams College, Wake Forest University, the University of Maryland, and Texas A&M, Allison was a Melon Foundation Creative Campus Scholar at the Center for the Arts of Wesleyan University in 2014/15. Allison gives frequent lectures and talks, and was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Texas Commission on the Arts statewide conference. Her work has been funded by the City of Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the MAP Fund, The New England Foundation for the Arts, Engaging Dance Audiences/Dance USA, numerous foundations, and the City of Venice, Italy.
Currently a Distinguished Fellow of the College of Environment at Wesleyan University, Allison directed 2016’s The Artist in the City—a hands on course in her community-based dance-making practice where Wesleyan students embedded within the local water/waste water department to create collaborative artistic projects with city employees. Allison has also taught children, adults over 65, and people with disabilities. Before founding Forklift Danceworks, Allison danced and studied with Deborah Hay and MacArthur Award winner Liz Lerman. Allison is a native Texan and holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Mills College and a BA in Anthropology from Wake Forest University.
Krissie Marty has made dances with children and adults of all ages and abilities. As the Associate Choreographer with Forklift Danceworks, she works alongside Allison Orr to create dances with people that aren’t traditionally thought of as dancers. By engaging everyday people – most often employees of the city – in the creative process of dance-making, her work asks audiences to reconsider their relationship to labor and laboring bodies. Krissie created and directed RE Source, a performance featuring the employees and machinery of the Goodwill Resource Center in a 125,000 square foot recycling warehouse. She also co-directed with Allison Orr, Bartholomew Swims, a dance for a city pool and its people, PowerUP, featuring employees of Austin’s electrical utility, Play Ball Downs Field on a historic Negro League baseball field, Afoot: A Marching Band Extravaganza in Houston’s East End, and The Trees of Govalle featuring employees of Austin’s Urban Forestry Program and Govalle neighborhood residents. In her role as Forklift’s Director of Education, Krissie leads the Leaps & Bounds and Learning in Motion programs that get students and teachers using creative movement to animate their curriculum.
Previously, Krissie’s choreography has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Stratford Circus in London, Chateau de Cazals in France and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. For over eight years, Krissie worked with a variety of populations as a choreographer and teaching artist with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She has choreographed and coached movement for theatre including NYC based contemporary performance art company Big Art Group, Washington Shakespeare Company and Imagination Stage in DC and the Paramount in Austin. Krissie holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from the University of Texas and an MFA in Choreography from the University of Iowa. Krissie is also a reviewer for the Teaching Artist Journal.
She has also provided professional development for Austin’s Creative Learning Initiative, Theatre Action Project’s Changing Lives Youth Ensemble and Music Together teachers. She has taught nationally for the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow School & Curriculum in Motion, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, NewVic (London), Adugna Dance Company (Ethiopia), Grinnell College and Towson University. She has provided teacher training in arts integration for Wolf Trap, Towson University, and City Dance Ensemble in DC. Krissie has also danced with children in home health and hospice care, as well as with Studio G in the Pediatric Unit at Georgetown Medical Center.
Ann Starr joined Forklift Danceworks in 2014 to become the Company’s first Managing Director, and she is proud to be part of a growing, dynamic organization that enriches the lives of so many and makes creative connections. Ann brings a wealth of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to the team, honed over more than 20 years as a leader in a variety of nonprofit organizations.
Prior to her work with Forklift, Ann served as the Director of Education at Mission Capital (formerly Greenlights), a nonprofit resource center and consulting firm, where she led efforts to to educate and connect the Central Texas nonprofit sector. In 2007 and 2008, Ann was Director of Development for Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center addressing systemic injustices and for nearly six years, she managed The St. Edward’s Fund at St. Edward’s University, raising $1 million in scholarships and operating support for the University. Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio and a Master of Arts in Human Services from St. Edward’s University. She is the former Chair of the SIMS Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Fund Development Committee for the International Board of Directors for Amigos de las Américas. Ann and her husband, musician Stephen Beasley, love living in Austin with their two young and creative sons, Micah and Vaughn.
Jake Stepansky is a theatre-maker and arts advocate with a passion for making work that sands down boundaries between creator and audience. Jake recently graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology and theater, dance & media, as well as the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize for outstanding achievement in musical theater. Jake has worked as a production assistant and educator at the award-winning American Repertory Theater (ART) in Cambridge, MA, including work on the NYC-bound productions of Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 and Nice Fish, and as a director at the ART’s second stage, Club OBERON. He has served as a student producer for Harvard’s annual ARTS FIRST festival, a development assistant at the Gate Theatre in London, and a freelance writer for Inside Arts magazine. Jake is thrilled to be living in Austin and welcomes any and all restaurant recommendations.
Rae is a lover of movement and bodies and joins the Forklift team with a passion for connecting folks all over Austin (and beyond) with the work Forklift is doing. She recently graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, CA with a degree in Dance – Movement Studies and a minor in Psychology. Besides dance, she is interested in photography, cooking, herbalism, “rewilding”, and community healing through accessible art. She hopes to continue to examine and deconstruct the ways societal structures inform the ways we use our bodies.
Clara Pinsky is a choreographer and arts administrator based in San Francisco, California. She received her B.A. in Dance from Wesleyan University, where her senior thesis, “Evaluating Community-Based Performance as a Strategy for Community Development” emerged from her work on program evaluation for Forklift Danceworks. Clara also directed BUILD, a dance featuring Wesleyan’s Physical Plant employees, using the engagement model developed by Forklift Danceworks. She has been working for Forklift since 2015, first as a student fellow and rehearsal assistant for The Trees of Govalle, then as research assistant, and now as Administrative Coordinator.
Clara also serves as Program Manager for Skywatchers, a community-engaged arts program of ABD Productions, based in San Francisco. In her free time, she spends time cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, learning about community organizing, and fretting about the state of the art world.
Miriam Conner is a curator, artist manager, creative space maker and event producer. She has been in Austin for 25 years by way of New Orleans, Louisiana. Graduating from St. Stephens Episcopal High School, she then received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.
After graduating, Miriam came home to Austin and began managing Pine Street Station (an Artist warehouse and gallery) for two years, and has since planned countless art shows, in addition to co-founding Topology Art Warehouse. She has also worked with SXSW, Art Outside, Six Square – Austin’s Black Cultural District and The City of Austin and more.
“At the age of fifteen, I discovered what I want to do for the rest of my life. I know not many people are sure about what they want to do by the age of twenty-seven much less by the age of fifteen, but I am very grateful to have found that particular passion that wakes me up in the morning and tucks me in at night. My life liberty and pursuit of happiness lies within art.”
Gretchen is a senior at Wesleyan University, where she had the opportunity to create a performance with the Middletown Water and Sewer Department under the guidance and mentorship of Forklift Danceworks Artistic Director Allison Orr. She grew up dancing and is interested in the intersections of art-making, movement, and wellbeing. At Wesleyan, Gretchen has worked for the Center for the Arts and currently volunteers with the WesWell Office of Health Education as a Peer Health Advocate and facilitator of Bystander Intervention Trainings. In 2017 she received a Summer Research Fellowship from Wesleyan’s College of the Environment (COE) to support her internship with Forklift, where she served as Rehearsal Assistant/Production Intern/Stage Manager for Bartholomew Swims. The COE has generously extended its funding for the 17-18 academic year.
Andrew Lee Dolan is a multidisciplinary performance artist whose work has premiered in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Austin, New Orleans, and Ireland. He has served guest artist residencies with Fairfield University (CT) and Century College (MN), and has worked with Teatr Biuro Podrozy (Poland), 15HEAD: a theatre lab, Town Hall Theatre (Ireland), and many others. He has provided dozens of lectures and workshops on contemporary performance and devising techniques for universities and theater companies across the country. He graduated with an MA in Performance from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and holds an MFA in Directing and Public Dialogue from Virginia Tech. He has been working with Forklift Danceworks since 2010.
Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Austin-based composer-bandleader-improvisor Graham Reynolds creates, performs, and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs and concert halls with collaborators ranging from Richard Linklater and Jack Black to DJ Spooky, the Rude Mechs and Forklift Danceworks.
Heard throughout the world in films, on TV, on stage, and on radio, from HBO to Showtime, Cannes Film Festival to the Kennedy Center, and BBC to NPR, he’s scored HBO’s “The Diplomat”, “Before Midnight” with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, “Bernie” featuring Jack Black, the Rooster Teeth TV series “Day 5”, and many more. His score to the Robert Downey, Jr. feature “A Scanner Darkly” was named Best Soundtrack of the Decade by Cinema Retro magazine.
With the jazz-based but far reaching Golden Arm Trio, Reynolds has repeatedly toured the country and released four critically acclaimed albums. As Co-Artistic Director of Golden Hornet Project, Reynolds has produced more than fifty concerts of world-premier alt-classical music by more than sixty composers, as well as countless pieces of his own. He is a company member with the internationally acclaimed Rude Mechs, resident composer with Salvage Vanguard Theater, and works regularly with Forklift Danceworks and Ballet Austin.
Reynolds last released two albums simultaneously: “The Difference Engine: A Triple Concerto” and “DUKE! Three Portraits of Ellington” on Innova Records with distribution by Naxos, the world’s biggest classical label. His awards include a Creative Capital Award, an Independent Music Award, Lowe Music Theater Award, eight Austin Critic’s Table awards, the John Bustin Award, an Amp Award, seven Austin Chronicle Best Composer wins, and a B. Iden Payne Award. His current work-in-progress is a multi-year three part commission from Ballroom Marfa titled “The Marfa Triptych”, a portrait of deep West Texas that Vogue Magazine described as “beautiful and raucous”. Find out more at grahamreynolds.com.
Stephen Pruitt has been working as a photographer, designer, writer, director and performer since getting his first camera in high school. After studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, he switched directions by spending two years at Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati working under several well know directors and playwrights, including Lee Blessing, Edward Albee and Rebecca Miller. Shortly after, he began designing lighting and sets and became interested in dance, becoming the resident designer for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater, where he worked with many nationally known Dance groups and choreographers including Parsons Dance, Urban Bush Women, Doug Varone, David Dorfman and many others.
Since moving to Austin in 1997, Stephen has worked as a freelance Lighting, Scenic, and Video designer, collaborating with many of Austin’s biggest and most creative theater and dance groups including Forklift Danceworks, Tapestry Dance Company, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance (as resident production designer for all three), Trouble Puppet Theater (resident lighting designer), and Rude Mechs (company member) as well as Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre, Conspirare, Scottish Rite Theater, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Physical Plant Theater, and St Edwards University. His company, Fluxion Scenic and Light, has produced and designed many seminal Austin events, including Austin Film Society’s Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, the Mayor’s party at City Hall for First Night, and opening night parties for Cirque du Soleil’s first two Austin Premieres. In addition to his work in Austin, Stephen tours and travels frequently and also produces performance work through Catastrophe Theory Arts.
Stephen has received many nominations and awards from Austin’s critics and arts community including each of his collaborations with Forklift, and is the only designer in Austin to be nominated for Critic’s Table and B. Iden Payne Awards in both the Scenic Design and Lighting Design categories, and his work is routinely recognized in the many end of year top ten lists. In the past couple years, Stephen has been spending more time on his photography work, with recent shows at Prizer Arts and Letters, and Link & Pin Gallery. All of his work in various media can be found at www.stephenpruitt.net
Silva Laukkanen loves dance. She loves the movement. She loves the diversity. She loves the beautiful moments that are created in space by bodies telling stories. During a chance opportunity to teach at a rehabilitation center in her native Finland she was reminded of the transformative power of movement in the lives of everyday people, and because of this experience she decided to re-focus her career on community and mixed-ability dance.
Using her passion for both choreography and performance she has worked with Remix Dance Company and SCORE in Cape Town teaching children and adults in local communities. She has given workshops in Finland and England for mixed aged and ability groups, including a two year stint teaching a weekly class for the Finnish mixed ability company Magic Dance. She was introduced to Forklift and Body Shift in 2010 as a participant during its inaugural event. Silva holds a BFA in Dance from The North Karelia College of Outokumpu and a post graduate degree in Community Dance from The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK.
Olivia O’Hare is a theatre artist, dancer, and pilates instructor who completed coursework toward the PhD in Performance as Public Practice at UT where she focused on movement theory and analysis of contact improvisational dance and DanceAbility. She also has a BFA and MA in theatre directing and has performed and worked with numerous Austin-based groups such as Improvisational Movement Project, Actual Lives Austin, and Cliff Diver Productions. Her teaching is informed by a variety of movement modalities including Viewpoints, Body-Mind Centering, Alexander Technique, and contact improvisation. She has been a part of Body Shift since its inception and generally teaches class with a performance focus.
Yvonne Keyrouz, a choreographer and performer, received her B.A from the Texas Woman’s University Department of Dance. She is a Teaching Artist for Leaps & Bounds and served as Assistant Choreographer and Rehearsal Assistant for Forklift Danceworks’ most recent production, RE Source.
Yvonne has created and performed work for many Texas dance festivals such as Bailando, The Cohen New Works Festival, Big Range, and the American College Dance Festival. Yvonne has completed an internship with Deborah Hay, conducting research for the Solo Commissioning Project and has attended the American Dance Festival twice, once as a student and once in a work-study position. In the summer of 2014 Yvonne participated in the Summer Institute at Dance Exchange as a scholarship student and later attended the Facing Race Conference in Dallas with the Dance Exchange team. She received her certification as a Labor Support and Postpartum Doula from Doula Trainings International and is interested in exploring birth activism in her future choreographic projects. Her other interests include painting, ongoing pranks with her sister and three brothers, and watching Lilo and Stitch on a weekly basis.
Nancy Bain has been a dance educator for 40 years, teaching in public and private schools, studios, community centers and universities. She was a licensed dance teacher for NY City Board of Education, teaching at LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, as well as in elementary and middles schools. She taught at Queensborough Community College and The Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and was a teaching artist for 3 schools for students with special needs. In NY, Nancy performed with several modern dance companies and directed her own professional company, IdeaDance, for 13 years. In Austin, she coordinates the VSA & Forklift Danceworks “BODY SHIFT KIDS! Dance for Children with Special Needs”, and has been a teaching artist for VSA in K and PPCD classes. She also teaches at The Dance Gallery/Round Rock. In January 2013, she started the “Dancing with Parkinson’s” programs for people with Parkinson’s in Austin and Georgetown. Nancy holds a M.A. degree in Dance Education from New York University and was a Parent Support Specialist for Round Rock ISD from 2006-2011.
Roman Christian Morgan is a Teaching Artist with Forklift Danceworks. He began his dance training at Austin Community College and soon earned his BFA in Dance from Texas State University where he was a member of Merge Dance and Opening Door Dance Company. Roman has also studied Music and Theatre with faculty and guest artists at both Tarleton State University and Baylor University on Scholarship. Roman is the recipient of the Joan Hays, Opening Door Dance Theatre, Austin Community College Fine Arts, and Galaxy Dance Studio Scholarships. He has performed with Sally Jacques’ Blue Lapis Light, Allison Orr Forklift Danceworks, Charles Anderson, Kate Warren and in works by Darla Johnson. Roman is in his fourth season with the award-winning Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company as a full time artist. Roman is currently a Learning Assistant/Substitute Teacher for Austin Community College in the Office of Students with Disabilities and Fine Arts Program. Roman has been the resident co-choreographer for Austin Community College Summer Dance Informance Showcase since 2010 under the mentorship of Darla Johnson. Roman has taught and choreographed Dance for Bowie High School, American College Dance Festival, and privately working with novice dancers, musicians, and actors in the community. Roman is delighted to be with Forklift Danceworks as a Teaching Artist!