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+.
In recent years, Allison has been named a 2020 MacDowell Fellow, a 2019 Dance | USA Fellow in Social Change, a 2018 Doris Duke United States Artist Fellow, 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 find and follow Allison on Twitter.
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.
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), and From the Ground Up (2019).
Vivienne brings with her over 10 years of professional experience that includes fundraising on large and small campaigns, managing fundraising boards, event planning, and project management. She most recently served as the director of development for the Urban Collaborative Accelerative Program (UCAP) in Providence, RI. The UCAP School is an independent middle school that offers at-risk students an opportunity to accelerate in grade and progress on a path to success. Prior to her time at UCAP, Vivienne served as a member of the major gifts team at Brown University’s division of advancement for four years, where she managed a variety of special projects.
As the eldest of five daughters, Vivienne credits her team building, project management and sense of humor to being part of a large Irish family. In addition to her fundraising background, Vivienne and her family also owned and ran a café in Newport, RI where they hosted a variety of local fundraising events and art shows. Vivienne received her B.A. in Communication Studies with a focus in public relations from the University of Rhode Island in 2003.
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, and currently works 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.
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.
Cindy Elizabeth was born and raised in Austin, TX, where she currently resides and makes art. After graduating from Baylor University in 2010, Elizabeth began exploring her desire to create change by documenting the world around her. Working through the mediums of photography, film, and mixed media, she explores the concepts of culture, history, and balance. Elizabeth’s work has been shown at Women and Their Work Gallery, The George Washington Carver Museum, Mexicarte Museum and the University of Texas at Austin.
Fabiola Torralba is an immigrant who was born in the Costa Chica of Guerrero, Mexico and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her experience as a social justice activist, grassroots organizer, cultural arts worker, and community engagement coordinator has led to creative collaborations with artists, schools, galleries, and non-profit organizations for dancers ranging from inner city youth to seniors, refugees, Spanish speakers, LGBTQ groups, and fine arts students. Their work has ranged from workshops, to public dance actions, performance installations, concert dance, and theater productions supported by Jump-Start Performance Company, Lady Base Gallery, Gallista Gallery, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Mexic-Arte Museum, Kristi Faulkner Dance, Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldua, SpareWorks Dance, and the Indigenous Choreographers Gathering at UC-Riverside.
A first generation college student, Fabiola holds an A.A. in Dance, a B.A. in Mexican American Studies and Anthropology, and a M.F.A in Dance from the University of Michigan. Their leadership study includes participation in institutes by the Urban Bush Women, Dancing Earth Contemporary Creations, Dance/USA, F.I.E.R.C.E., N.A.L.A.C. and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. She has worked professionally as a performer, choreographer, project collaborator, and instructor on projects with the Dance Exchange, Safos Dance Theatre, Forklift Danceworks, Urban-15, and Dancing Earth Contemporary Creations. Her research explores feminist methodologies, intersectional politics, decolonial epistemologies, and migrant experiences. They enjoy facilitating dance making opportunities for movers of all backgrounds and cultivating interdisciplinary collaborations that explore the relationship between performance and action.
Allen first came across Forklift Danceworks when he was working at Austin Energy. He wrote and performed three original poetry pieces as a part of PowerUp. He was then asked to write, perform, and be a play-by-play announcer in Play Ball on Historic Downs Field. After being a part of Forklift for these two fantastic productions, Allen served on the Forklift Board of Directors for four wonderful years from 2015 to 2019. This year he is collaborating with Forklift on Take Me Out to Downs Field.
Allen retired from Austin Energy in 2019 after working there for over 27 years. A graduate of the University of Texas, he was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Allen enjoys time with his wife Christine and their three dogs (Cami, Charlie, and Cooper). Allen enjoys watching sports, especially college football and baseball, and attending spoken word poetry events. He has performed spoken word poetry in Austin and across the nation, and has competed in many poetry slams. And after all these great years with Forklift Danceworks, Allen has danced, worked, but has never driven a forklift.
Robert Smith, a.k.a. Scot Free, is from Bastrop, Texas and graduated from Huston Tillotson University in 2019. Robert is a slam poet and a manager with HEB. He first collaborated with Forklift Danceworks as an announcer and slam poet for Play Ball on Historic Downs Field in 2014, and he is once again bringing his smooth rhymes to this year’s project Take Me Out to Downs Field.
Robert has competed on several teams at the National Poetry Slam, including the 2010 Neo Soul slam team that placed 4th in the nation and the 2014 team that placed 2nd in group piece finals. He loves slam poetry and although he is semi-retired, he enjoys performing when the moment presents itself.
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.
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 what it means to be an arts citizen in an ever-changing and complex society.
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.
Raised in Kensington, Brooklyn NY, Zachary Farnsworth is a rising senior at Wesleyan University who studies dance and philosophy. He is a choreographer, dance educator, and political activist. His concentrated areas of experience are in modern dance, contact improvisation, and meditation, and recently he has been exploring dances of the African diaspora. He has taught dance improvisation and creation since high school inside his own pieces, as well as at Odyssey Teen Camp.
His interest in community based dance work was cemented his sophomore year when he helped co-develop, advertise and facilitate Moving Conversations, Making Community, a 6 week-long series of open to anyone dance collaborations, with Professor Julie Mulvihil and the residents of Middletown, Connecticut. Communication, improvisation, and personal narrative are at the center of his interests in dance and life. Learning how Forklift Danceworks’s inspiring community collaborations and sensitive listening practices are born and produced is one of the many reasons he is eager to intern for the company this summer.
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.
Kirstan Clifford is a movement educator, maker, and researcher based in Austin, TX. Since graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 2009 with a BA in Liberal Arts, she has nearly fifteen years experience teaching movement to all ages and abilities. Kirstan has a passion for understanding how the minds and bodies of children function in order to offer experiences that increase individuality, wellbeing, and self-awareness. As an artist, Kirstan has collaborated with artists such as Julie Atlas Muz, Laurel Atwell, Gerda König, Jean-Claude Lessou, Katie Mae Hebert, Trisha Brown, Julie Natanielsz, Emily P. Dunne, Karen Nelson, and luciana achugar. Kirstan created, curates, and moderates STUDIO SERIES SHOW, a performance and venue installation series that supports Austin-based dance artists with moderated, monthly peer critiques as preparation for performance. In 2019, she completed her MSc in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatorie, with thesis work that investigated the lived experiences of dance-based practitioners working in end of life and palliative care.
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 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 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.