A performance with Wesleyan University Facilities Staff
October 14-16, 2021
WesWorks featured the movement and stories of Wesleyan University’s Facilities employees. Presented by Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts in partnership with the College of the Environment, the project was developed through an 18-month series of residencies and connected courses. WesWorks invited audiences to witness and celebrate the virtuosic and skilled work of Wesleyan’s campus staff as performed by the employees themselves.
We deepened our commitments to long term, collaborative projects that have the potential to transform not only campus conversations but also the way we ourselves can imagine and embody a more connected community. Forklift showed us how to do that.
– Rani Arbo, Campus and Community Engagement Manager, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University
WesWorks deepened on a long relationship between Forklift Danceworks and Wesleyan University. Forklift’s Founder and Artistic Director Allison Orr was the 2014 Creative Campus Fellow in Dance, when she was commissioned by Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts to research a community-focused, site-specific work around labor at Wesleyan. In 2015-16, Orr returned to campus as the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment. She taught The Artist in the City, an immersive course which paired students with staff from the Middletown Water & Sewer Department. Together, the class and the employees created a performance for Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter. With support from the CFA, the COE, and the Dance Department, Orr and Forklift Danceworks have sustained engagement with Wesleyan students and staff through course modules, workshops, and guest teaching.
Forklift’s extraordinary tenure at Wesleyan, embedded with our College of the Environment, the Center for the Arts, our students, physical plant and custodial staff, fundamentally shifted the way we view and experience working with artists at Wesleyan. The depth and breadth of Forklift’s engagement here truly set a benchmark, and Orr’s impact on our students, staff and faculty cannot be underestimated.
– Fiona Coffey, Associate Director for Programming and Performing Arts, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University
On Campus: Dances with College Campus Employees tours Forklift’s collaborative art making method to partnering college campuses around the United States. WesWorks was the third in the series, following Served – Williams College and From the Ground Up.
Photos by Jonica Moore
This project is supported in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.