Leadership and Staff
Founder & Artistic DirectorShow Bio
From sanitation workers to firefighters, power linemen to maintenance teams, Allison Orr creates award-winning choreography with the people whose work sustains our everyday lives. Inspired by the beauty and virtuosity in the movement of labor, and building on her background in anthropology and social work, 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+.
In recent years, Allison has been named a MacDowell Fellow, a Dance | USA Fellow in Social Change, a Doris Duke United States Artist Fellow, Best Choreographer by The Austin Chronicle, Most Outstanding Choreographer 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, and 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. A guest artist for numerous dance programs including Williams College, Wake Forest University, the University of Maryland, and Texas A&M, Allison has been a Mellon Foundation Creative Campus Scholar at the Center for the Arts of Wesleyan University. Her work has been funded by the City of Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Doris Duke Foundation, 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 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 in 2001, Allison danced and studied with Deborah Hay and MacArthur Award winner Liz Lerman. She holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Mills College and a BA in Anthropology from Wake Forest University. Allison is a fourth generation Texan and lives in Austin with her husband and two children.
You can find and follow Allison on Twitter.
Associate Artistic Director & Community Collaborations DirectorShow Bio
Working in the mediums of dialogue, participation, and collaboration, Krissie Marty makes dances with people who aren’t traditionally considered dancers. As Associate Artistic Director and Community Collaborations Director of Forklift Danceworks, she most often engages working people in dance-making. She created and directed RE Source, featuring the employees and machinery of a Goodwill recycling warehouse, and conceived and co-directed with Allison Orr the multi-year project My Park, My Pool, My City, dances for city pools and their people, including Bartholomew Swims, Dove Springs Swims / Nadamos Dove Springs, and Givens Swims; 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.
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.
Organizational StrategistShow Bio
Lisa Byrd’s interest lies in exploring the intersection of the arts, civic engagement, community activism and cultural preservation. Lisa has a 30+ year career in the arts with roles ranging from audio engineering and production management to providing organizational leadership as production director for dance companies and executive leadership for community based arts organizations. Lisa has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Penn State University and a Masters Degree in Theater History and Criticism from Texas State University. She continued her studies in leadership and organizing with Marshall Ganz’s Leadership, Organizing and Action, an Executive Education program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Public Policy.
Utilizing her leadership skills as well as her skills as a community organizer Lisa developed what is now Texas’ only African American cultural district, Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural Heritage District. Lisa continues her work using a collaborative learning model in partnership with artists and arts organizations and those interested in public policy and civic action. Her current collaborative partnerships include Civic Arts and Forklift Danceworks on projects that center the arts as an organizing pathway to addressing civic life.
Over the years Lisa’s work has been recognized for its positive impact on communities she has engaged. In 2015 she received the Dewey Award from SXSW Conference. The award is given as an acknowledgement to the honoree’s dedication to creating positive and lasting change in their communities. In 2016 she received an award for her leadership as a community partner from the University of Texas at Austin’s Division on Diversity and Community Engagement. And, in 2017 she received the Ada DeBlanc Simond Trailblazer Award from the Austin Black Democrats. Lisa is also very proud to have been elected in 2019 to the Community Education Council representing District 3 for the New York City Department of Education.
Choreographer & Program CoordinatorShow Bio
Francis Rodriguez (she/her) is a dance maker, performer and educator currently based in Austin, Texas. Originally from the Rio Grande Valley, she holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from The University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate of the UTeach Dance program. Francis’ journey with Forklift Danceworks began in the summer of 2018 as an Artistic Intern for Dove Springs Swims/Nadamos Dove Springs. Since then, she has collaborated on Austin FC Collaboration (2021), Dances for Dogs and People Who Walk Them (2022), The Way of Water: Waller Creek (2022), and the ongoing Leaps & Bounds creative movement program.
Vanessa Alvarado Flores
Development ManagerShow Bio
Born and raised in deep South Texas – aka the Rio Grande Valley – Vanessa is a proud Fronteriza of Mexican heritage. She lives by Howard Thurman’s quote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
What makes Vanessa come alive is following her heart into uncharted territory – what has been seemingly non-existent/impossible – for someone like her with her type of cultural/social/economic background. For example, saying yes to training in New York City at the Atlantic Acting School – Evening Conservatory and somehow happily surviving in the great big apple for three fabulous years. OR like working at Forklift – a celebrated innovative arts organization – when no one ever told her that working full-time in the arts was an actual thing to want!
She comes alive as an actor, singer/songwriter, cultural worker building community with other artists, and as a performer and producer of dance performances with Frontera Dance Project – a dance collaboration based in the Rio Grande Valley, which she co-founded with Choreographer, Erica Garza, in 2019. Creating, co-creating, and working with humans who love to imagine and make big ideas come true gives her life.
Vanessa graduated with a Master of Liberal Arts from St. Edward’s University and with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a minor in Hispanic Studies from Texas A&M University.
Development & Administrative AssistantShow Bio
Marina Garbalena is a dancer and choreographer with a background in arts education and nonprofit administration. She is a lifelong creative and grew up loving music, playing soccer, and riding her bike around the streets of La Chaveña in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua. In her formative years at Academia and Centro Municipal de las Artes, she found a supportive community that inspired her to pursue dance, and witnessed first hand the power of arts as a conduit for connection, community, and cultural preservation.
Marina has collaborated with National Dance Institute, and Pushing Progress Contemporary Dance in New York City, Danza Total in Mexico City, El Paso Opera, UTEP Department of Theater & Dance, and Eva Maria Dance. She served as teaching, administrative and artistic staff, as well as Interim Co-Artistic Director with Kids Excel El Paso, a non-profit arts education organization. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from University of Texas in El Paso, and is a founding member of Mountain Movement Dance Company, with which she has had the opportunity to choreograph and perform in Texas, New Mexico, Mexico, and the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
Operations ManagerShow Bio
Shobie is an arts administrator with a passion for dance and building community. Before joining Forklift Shobie worked at Creative Action as the Director of School & Community Partnerships. She also spent many years working as a theater director and as a location manager on feature films. Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Shobie holds a MFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon and a double major in Communications and Theatre from Trinity University in San Antonio. In her spare time she enjoys teaching Jazzercise classes at the Austin Rec Center, volunteering with her daughter’s school, and potlucks with friends and family.
Institutional Giving ManagerShow Bio
Gretchen LaMotte (she/her) is a community-based performance maker, facilitator, and arts administrator. Born and raised in New Jersey, she received a BA in Science in Society from Wesleyan University with concentrations in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and a Certificate in Environmental Studies. At Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, Gretchen worked for the Creative Campus Initiative, Zilkha Gallery, and the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance. With Forklift, she has collaborated on The Artist in the City (2016), My Park, My Pool, My City (2017-2019), Served — Williams College (2018), From the Ground Up (2019), and Take Me Out to Downs Field (2020).
Digital Media CoordinatorShow Bio
Born and raised in Austin Tx, Damian comes from a background of film. At 18 years old he wrote and co-directed his first short film and debuted it at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, he’s continued to work on his craft, exploring other avenues of visual media in commercials, music videos and feature films. Damian has done work for Microsoft, Capital Metro, Austin FC, E4youth, I ACT, DAWA and others. “I enjoy the process of filming and editing, but I love having the ability to turn a life’s moment into a beautiful story”.
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Rachel Nayer is a performance artist, choreographer, and yoga teacher. In 2018, Rachel completed her undergraduate degree with honors in both Performance/Choreography and Environmental Science at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is passionate about using the body as a tool for communication, celebration, community building, and acknowledgment. Rachel first joined the Forklift team in the summer of 2018 for Dove Springs Swims/Nadamos Dove Springs, and since then has collaborated on Givens Swims(2019), The Way of Water: Waller Creek (2022), and The Way of Water: Onion Creek (2023/24).
Production DesignerShow Bio
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
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
Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Austin-based composer-bandleader-improviser Graham Reynolds creates, performs, and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs, and concert halls with collaborators across a multitude of disciplines.
Heard throughout the world in films, TV, stage, and radio, he recently scored Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette with Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, and Laurence Fishburne for Annapurna Pictures, Happy Jail for Netflix, the Rude Mechs’ Stop Hitting Yourself for Lincoln Center Theater, Ballet Austin’s Grimm Tales, and a multi-year commission from Ballroom Marfa, The Marfa Triptych. He has performed on an array of legendary stages, from the Kennedy Center to the Green Mill Tavern to the Conan O’Brien Show. His Creative Capital Award winning project, Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance, a bilingual cross-border opera created with librettists Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Mexico City) and director Shawn Sides (Rude Mechs), has been staged in over a dozen cities in North America.
As Artistic Director of the non-profit Golden Hornet, he leads efforts which draw on the collaborative spirit of rock bands and the composer-led nature of classical music, with a focus on commissioning new music, fostering young and emerging composers, and presenting adventurous works in non-traditional settings. Alongside Kronos Quartet’s longtime cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, he curated The Sound of Science, an interdisciplinary, multimedia performance that is touring internationally.
Reynolds leads the jazz-based but far reaching Golden Arm Trio. He is a company member with the internationally acclaimed Rude Mechs theater collective and resident composer with Salvage Vanguard Theater and Forklift Danceworks. His accolades include a Creative Capital Award, an Independent Music Award, two Frederick R. Loewe Music Theatre Awards, nine Austin Critics Table Awards, the John Bustin Award, multiple Austin Chronicle Best Composer wins, and a B. Iden Payne Award. Graham released a twelve album set on Innova Recordings in early 2017 and his newest studio effort, MARFA: A Country & Western Big Band Suite, came out on November 22, 2019. Find out more at grahamreynolds.com.
José Ome Mazatl
Guest ArtistShow Bio
José Ome Navarrete Mazatl is a native of México City. He studied dance at the National Institute of Fine Arts in México, and has a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and M.F.A in Dance from Mills College. He has studied dance with Sara Shelton Mann. In 2004, José Ome was the recipient of a Bessie Schönberg residency at The Yard, and a Djerassi residency. José is the recipient of a CHIME Across Borders fellowship with Ralph Lemon. He has taught dance and performance to youth and adults in Mexico, and in the San Francisco Bay Area at Berkeley High School, Marin Academy, Cal State East Bay, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He was a 2018 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellow, a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow and a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow. José Ome’s curatorial practice can be seen at the FRESH Festival and at Eastside Arts Alliance’s Live Arts in Resistance (LAIR) initiative, which provides residencies and performing opportunities for artists of color in East Oakland.
Guest Musical ArtistShow Bio
Vanessa Burden is a Multidisciplinary Creator, Visionary and Party Starter.
Originally hailing from Houston, Texas, Vanessa earned her degree in Audio Engineering from San Jacinto College.
Vanessa produced and hosted Beats of Burden, a Latin music show on KOOP 91.7fm from 2011-2017. The show’s legacy lives on in each curated set that explores anything from mambo to salsa to baile funk and cumbiatronica. Her musical style is a journey through time and space while keeping the listener on their toes. When not DJing, she can be found performing with local Latin psych rockers, Los Alcos or cutting a rug on a dancefloor near you!
Guest Musical ArtistShow Bio
Orión García is, at heart, an artist in every sense of the word. Orión García as the Dj has been performing and producing music for over 20 years. As a curator he is the owner and founder of the art and music collective Peligrosa, a latin party that celebrated their 15 year anniversary in 2022. Peligrosa recently became the official djs of the Austin FC MLS team. He holds and runs one of Austin’s longest running weeklies in east Austin at Volstead. The producer, engineer, and promoter works on his label, Discos Peligrosa, producing records and events supporting new and emerging artists. On occasion he will perform live with drum machines and samplers. Orión is also a visual artist, producing music videos, performing visuals live, and creating 3d art using a combination of generative art and 3d softwares. He also enjoys repairing and tinkering with electronics, creating unique devices for controlling music and visuals. He loves arts and crafts nights, listening to really sad old music and is a burgeoning woodworker 🙂
Guest Musical ArtistShow Bio
DJ GL is a musician from Austin Texas. DJ GL specializes in electronic soundscapes with danceable beats.
Intern, Wesleyan UniversityShow Bio
Pema is a Junior at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. There she is pursuing her undergraduate, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Dance. She is from the Bay Area, California and is excited about combining her passions for the environment, social action, and dance.
Intern, Wesleyan UniversityShow Bio
Clara is from Queens, New York and a current sophomore at Wesleyan University. She is a Theater and American Studies double major with a minor in Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS). Clara has worked with Forklift since her Freshman spring assisting with the Onion Creek project and creating social media content in addition to doing other administrative work.