The Team

Allison Orr

Founder & Artistic Director

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, 2017, and 2018 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.

You can reach Allison at allison@forkliftdanceworks.org or follow her on Twitter.

Krissie Marty

Associate Artistic Director & Community Collaborations Director

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 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, dances for city pools and their people, including Bartholomew Swims, Dove Springs Swims / Nadamos Dove Springs, and Givens Swims.

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.

You can reach Krissie at krissie@forkliftdanceworks.org or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Jenna Carrens

Development Director

Jenna has lived in Austin for thirteen years and is an arts advocate who strives to create and work with organizations that force people out of their comfort zones. Jenna has a passion for projects that provide communities with accessible and affordable learning opportunities in unique environments. She received her B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric, with a Creative Writing emphasis, from St. Edward’s University in 2009 and has remained in Austin since to pursue a career in arts non-profit administration.

Previously, Jenna has worked in development and as an event producer for visual arts non-profit Big Medium; in development at local Montessori-to-IB private school The Khabele School (now Headwaters); in programming and development at free creative writing cohort Austin Bat Cave; and in event production for You’re Here!, a series of interactive and music showcases.

Jenna is also the founder of Attendance Records, a local non-profit organization that provides a platform for public school students to explore their identities through music, art, and writing. Through Attendance Records, Jenna has helped create six collaborative albums with several local bands and middle / high school students.

Jenna currently serves on CapMetro’s ArtMetro committee and continues to work on creative programming and events around town.

You can reach Jenna at jenna@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Jake Stepansky

Operations Manager

Jake Stepansky is a theatre-maker and arts advocate with a passion for making work that sands down boundaries between creator and audience. Jake 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. In Austin, he has worked as a stage manager with paper chairs and Salvage Vanguard Theater.

You can reach Jake at jake@forkliftdanceworks.org or follow him on Instagram.

Gretchen LaMotte

Assistant Choreographer

Gretchen LaMotte works in the realms of performance making, community action and healing. 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), Bartholomew Swims (2017), Served – Williams College (2018), Dove Springs Swims/Nadamos Dove Springs (2018), Givens Swims (2019), and From the Ground Up (2019).

You can reach Gretchen at gretchen@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Clara Pinsky

Assistant Choreographer

Clara Pinsky (she/her) is an artist-organizer and arts administrator based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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, collaborating on The Trees of Govalle (2015), The Artist in the City (2016), Bartholomew Swims (2017), Served (2018), Nadamos Dove Springs (2018), Givens Swims (2019), and From the Ground Up (2019).

When she’s not making dances with Forklift, Clara works as a Research Associate at the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation while pursuing a Masters degree in Urban Strategy at Drexel University. Prior to working at Lindy, Clara served as Program Manager for Skywatchers, a community-engaged arts program in the Tenderloin Neighborhood of San Francisco.

You can reach Clara at clara@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Miriam Conner

Community Engagement Coordinator for My Park, My Pool, My City

Miriam Conner is a curator, community organizer and creative space maker. She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and came to Austin, Texas when she was three years old. 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, The City of Austin and more.

She is also on the African American Resource Advisory Commission for The City of Austin.

“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-nine 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 lie within art.”

Hannah Roberts

Communications Consultant

Hannah is a creative producer and arts advocate who has collaborated with artists and nonprofits in Austin and central Texas since 2006. From program development and fundraising to event design and communications, she has a passion for helping collectives find their voices and tell their stories with impact.

Previously, Hannah worked with Big Medium as Development Director, with the Austin Humane Society as Fundraising Events Manager, and with the Capital District of the United Methodist Church, the San Antonio Jewish Community Center, and in the art studio of Judy Paul. She received her BA in Art History with a minor in English from Texas State University, San Marcos (2009). Currently, she serves as the Grants Program Officer for the University of Texas Libraries.

You can reach Hannah at hannah@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Andrew Dolan

Institutional Giving Manager

Andrew Lee Dolan is a multidisciplinary performance artist whose work has premiered in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Austin, New Orleans, and Ireland. He is an Artistic Director of Red Eye Theater, has served guest artist residencies with Fairfield University and Century College, and has worked with Teatr Biuro Podrozy, the Playwright’s Center, Town Hall Theatre (Ireland), and many others.

As a professional producer, developer, and fundraiser, he manages a portfolio of $2m+ funding partnerships across multiple organizations. 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; his work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been working with Forklift Danceworks since 2010.

You can reach Andrew at andrew@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Rachel Nayer

Development and Communications Associate

Rachel Nayer is a dancer, choreographer, yoga teacher, and environmentalist. She was born and raised in Austin into a family who celebrates the expressive nature of the body. Rachel completed her undergraduate degree in dance and environmental science this past year at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Recently, Rachel spent a year studying at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. She has also worked for the City of Austin Brownfields Office, contributing to the revitalization of contaminated properties. Rachel is passionate about using the body as a tool for communication in order to viscerally represent themes of disagreement and resolution. She searches to share art, emphasizing its power to support and stimulate personal, social, and environmental change. Movement is her tool for celebration, community building, and acknowledgment.

You can reach Rachel at rachel@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Lisa Byrd

Consultant

Lisa Byrd grew up in the Germantown, Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia on a block with 15-20 residents around the same age. She loves where she grew up and the people she grew up with. Her father, who was born and raised in the same neighborhood, had a large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles. Music was always a big focus in their home. Although Lisa has not lived in Philadelphia for 20 years, it will always be her home.

Lisa received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Penn State. Initially planning to go to Seminary to study scripture, she discovered theater and went on to study audio engineering at SUNY, continuing her studies at Texas State University. Lisa has spent the last 35 years working in the arts as an audio engineer for bands, sound designer for theater, production manager for all aspects of the performing arts and executive director of arts and culture organizations. She has always been a fan of Forklift’s work and had the opportunity to partner with them on Play Ball Downs Field (2014).

Lisa is not a big swimmer, but in Austin during the summer she spent a lot of time in the water at Deep Eddy Pool. She would go in the late afternoon after work and just jump in. There was no better feeling than beating off the heat of the day by jumping into that cold, cold water.

You can reach Lisa at lisavbyrd@gmail.com.

Azure Brown

Community Collaborator

Azure Brown is a Native East Austinite and graduated from Texas State in 2013 with a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. Azure is a Certified Records Manager for a Local Government and a Board Member of Austin ARMA, a local organization for Records Managers. She majored in Dance at Austin Community College, where Allison Orr was one of her dance instructors. They have maintained a relationship since and Azure has enjoyed working on Forklift projects including Play Ball (2014) and Givens Swims (2019). Azure is an Imagineer with a focus in fashion and beauty. She is also happily married with children and a toy poodle.

You can reach Azure at azure_brown@yahoo.com.

 

 

Sarafina Fabris-Green

Development Intern

Raised in Austin, Texas, Sarafina Fabris-Green is in her third year at Wesleyan University studying urban studies. She began working for Forklift during the summer of 2017. Her work at urban community based organizations like Forklift piqued her interest into the impact of a city’s built environment on social inclusion among residents. At Wesleyan, her urban studies curriculum provides a theoretical and design framework to analyze city development. Last fall, Sarafina participated in SIT’s Cities in the 21st Century program, in which she observed governments across Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Cape Town, alter their urban landscapes to establish more resilient, accessible, and citizen-oriented cities. Her urban design courses and work experiences show her the power of collaboration between residents, officials, and designers to create a more just city.

In Austin, Sarafina has worked with GO Collaborative, a creative placemaking firm owned by urban planner Lynn Osgood and architect Sarah Gamble. She worked on their Drawing Lines project that examined place and identity across Austin’s ten districts and also conducted preliminary research for a cultural engagement project in Calgary. In Sarafina’s first summer at Forklift, she served as a community engagement intern for the production Bartholomew Swims. Sarafina helped run rehearsals and conduct interviews with community members and coordinate their role in the production. In 2018, while still involved in the production process, Sarafina’s role shifted to the development side of Forklift operations.

You can reach Sarafina at sarafina@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Tamara Rivera

Artistic Intern

Tamara Rivera is an environmentalist who has a passion for social justice and community building. Tamara is from Holyoke, Massachusetts and is a rising junior at Wesleyan University where she double majors in Biology and Environmental studies. With Forklift, Tamara has participated in an on campus project where she shadowed physical plant workers and created a performance with the choreography from their everyday lives.

You can reach Tamara at tamara@forkliftdanceworks.org.

Stephen Pruitt

Production Designer

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

Graham Reynolds

Composer

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, will come out on November 22, 2019. Find out more at grahamreynolds.com.

Silva Laukkanen

Leaps & Bounds Teaching Artist

Silva Laukkanen loves dance. She loves movement. She loves 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 inclusive dance. Her passion for dance education and choreography has taken her around the world to teach in many different environments, from senior centers, to correctional facilities, and to other educational settings. She wants to expand the notion of who can dance and where dance should happen. This inquiry sparked the idea in 2016 to start the DanceCast: a podcast to bring awareness about dance artists working outside the traditional norms. Silva holds a BFA in Dance from The North Karelia College of Outokumpu and a postgraduate degree in Community Dance from The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK and is a certified DanceAbility teacher.

Roman Morgan

Leaps & Bounds Teaching Artist

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!

Francis Rodriguez

Leaps & Bounds Teaching Artist

Francis Rodriguez is a performer and dance educator currently based in Austin, Texas. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin’s UTeach Dance program and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance. While at UT, Francis both performed and choreographed works with Dance Repertory Theatre, Dance Action, and the Cohen New Works Festival. She also served as Chair of the College of Fine Arts’ UTeach Fine Arts Council for two years. Francis’ journey with Forklift Danceworks began in the summer of 2018 as an Artistic Intern for Dove Springs Swims/Nadamos Dove Springs. Currently, she serves as a Teaching Artist with Forklift Danceworks, Ballet Austin, and multiple dance studios in the Austin area. You can reach Francis at francis@forkliftdanceworks.org.