From sanitation workers to firefighters, Venetian gondoliers to professional baseball players, power linemen to forestry technicians, Allison Orr creates award-winning choreography with unlikely performers. Inspired by the beauty and virtuosity in the practiced, habitual movement of labor, Allison’s dances feature the often-overlooked choreography of work that sustains our everyday lives. Building on her background in anthropology and social work, over the past 20 years Allison has honed a methodology of ethnographic choreography that engages community members as co-authors and performers in the creation of large-scale civic spectacles. Challenging audiences to expand notions of dance and performer, her dances have been performed for audiences of 60 to 6,000+.
Recently named a 2018 Doris Duke United States Artist Fellow, 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/wastewater 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.
Working in the mediums of dialogue, participation, and collaboration, Krissie Marty makes dances with people who aren’t traditionally considered dancers. As Associate Choreographer of Forklift Danceworks, she most often engages city employees in dance-making. She created and directed RE Source, featuring the employees and machinery of a Goodwill recycling warehouse, and co-directed with Allison Orr Served, a dance for Williams College Dining Services staff; The Trash Project Rotterdam as a commission for the International Community Arts Festival, 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; The Trees of Govalle featuring employees of Austin’s Urban Forestry Program and Govalle neighborhood residents as well as conceiving of and co-directing the multi-year project My Park, My Pool, My City, including last summer’s performance of Bartholomew Swims, a dance for a city pool and its people.
Krissie’s community-based choreography has been made in partnership with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, Stratford Circus (London), Chateau de Cazals (France), and Adugna Dance Company (Ethiopia). Krissie worked as a faculty member and choreographer with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for over a decade. She choreographed movement for theatre with Big Art Group (NYC and international tours), Washington Shakespeare Company, and Imagination Stage (DC). Krissie has worked with countless artists, teachers, and students at Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion, Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, the Pediatric Unit at Georgetown Medical Center, and in home health/hospice care centers.
Jenna is an arts advocate who has a passion for providing accessible and affordable learning opportunities in unique environments to the public. Jenna received her B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric, with an emphasis on Creative Writing, from St. Edward’s University in 2009. After college, Jenna remained in Austin to pursue a career in non-profit administration and has worked in programming, development, and event producer roles at non-profits like Big Medium, Austin Bat Cave, and The Khabele School.
Jenna is also the founder and director of Attendance Records, a local organization that provides a platform for public school students to explore their identities through music, art, and writing. Students employ the crafts of creative professionals in the community to create artistic works that tell the stories of who they are.
You can reach Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
You can reach Jake at email@example.com.
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.
You can reach Rae at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
You can reach Clara at email@example.com.
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. After graduating from St. Stephens Episcopal High School, she received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.
After college, Miriam came home to Austin and began managing the 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, 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.
You can reach Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Proietti is a theatre maker and teaching artist. She is interested in public dialogue as artistic practice. During her first ten years as an adult-ish person, Kate has tried on a few different professional identities, most recently as a developer advocate at Google. As an educator and art maker, Kate has worked with Creative Action, The Chilean Ministry of Education, KIPP Collegiate High School, Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, The Fountain Theatre, Montana Shakespeare in the Park, Montana State University-Bozeman, and Girl Scouts of America among others. Kate is certified as a yoga teacher, labor doula, and permaculture designer.
Currently Kate is an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Texas at Austin (Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities, Class of 2019). Learn more at www.kateproietti.com.
LB (Laura Beth) is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator from Louisiana currently residing in Austin, Texas. She recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Business Foundations certificate. She teaches ballet and creative movement to little ones, choreographs and performs with a local band called TC Superstar, and jumps at every possible opportunity to advocate for the arts. She is interested in multimedia collaboration, and accessibility in both performance and youth education.
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
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!