Artists & Collaborators
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.
Choreographer & Programs 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).
On the Job Project ManagerShow Bio
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.
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.
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
Summer InternShow Bio
Erin Byrne (she/her) is from Colorado and is currently a student at Wesleyan University. She is planning to double major in Science in Society and Psychology and minor in Data Analysis. As a student at Wesleyan, Erin has worked on multiple projects through Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, including a virtual field trip for local elementary schoolers which she coordinated in her capacity as an intern for the center in 2020. Erin became involved with Forklift beginning with her work as a production manager during WesWorks (2021).
Summer InternShow Bio
Anoushka Saluja (she/her) was born and raised in New Delhi, India. She is a student at Wesleyan University, majoring in Psychology and potentially minoring in Dance and Civic Engagement. With Forklift, she has collaborated on WesWorks (2021).
Leaps & Bounds Teaching Artist
Leaps & Bounds CoordinatorShow Bio
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.
Leaps & Bounds Teaching ArtistShow Bio
LB is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator based in Austin, TX. In 2017, she graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in dance with a focus in dance education. She co-founded TC Superstar, a multidisciplinary performance group, and now performs regularly in the Austin area and all over the country. Along with Leaps & Bounds, she teaches at Ballet Austin and in multiple Montessori preschools. LB is committed to guiding young children in their developmental journeys through movement, and she is passionate about creating safe spaces for children to explore their creativity.
Operations & Development
Development ManagerShow Bio
Kelly Schaber has a lifelong passion for filmmaking, art and community. Through her work she seeks to illuminate social causes; weaving themes of access to art, culture, education, mental health resources, and creative storytelling into every project.
Kelly is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘Em!) with a Masters in Human Dimensions of Organizations, a degree that draws on disciplines in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences to understand the behavior and motivations of people. She has also directed short documentaries to help support the development goals of community organizations and nonprofits, including, Inside Books Project, Inspire Austin, and You Are Not Alone Mural Project.
Vanessa Alvardo Flores
Senior Development AssociateShow 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.
Communications ManagerShow Bio
Penny Snyder is a communications professional who helps arts organizations share what they do with the public. Her work is characterized by a focus on narrative storytelling, accessible and engaging prose, and an iterative approach to content and strategy based on outcomes and analytics. She has worked in communications at Sasaki, a planning and design firm outside Boston, MA, in PR at the Blanton Museum, in Austin, TX. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2016 with a BA in English and received High Honors for her General Scholarship thesis on art museums, architecture, and public space. She is an incoming graduate student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
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.
Institutional Giving ManagerShow Bio
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, Minneapolis’ home for experimental and multidisciplinary performance, and he has served guest artist residencies with Fairfield University and Century College.
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.
Touring Projects CoordinatorShow Bio
Jane joined the staff of Forklift Danceworks in November 2016 to manage national touring associated with the On Campus project. She has been following the work of Forklift since she met Allison in 1998 and is excited to be helping to expose the world to its extraordinary work.
Her full time work is at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland where she is a key member of the curatorial team and is the primary program design generator and leader of all initiatives, projects and programs in the area of campus and community engagement. While she has been at UMD she has established two campus/community working groups, each with the focus of integrating creative expression into conversations and activities about social justice.
Jane worked in various capacities, including Managing Director/CEO, at Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for 13 years. Prior to that, she was manager of the Culture in Community Fund at the New England Foundation for the Arts after her work for several years at The Music Hall, a multi-disciplinary arts presenting organization in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Jane has served as a panelist for grant reviewing in many parts of the country and enjoys talking and writing in various forums about community building through the arts. Long ago, she was a professional musician in New York, favoring chamber music because it provided collaboration and co-creation opportunities. She is based in Catonsville, Maryland, where she lives with her family, and continues to investigate how to be anti-racist and what it means to be an arts citizen in an ever-changing and complex society.