Founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Allison Orr, Forklift Danceworks actively engages diverse communities through the creation of unique dance projects featuring all kinds of people. Using the movement that come from daily life as the choreographic starting point and casting community members as the primary performers in these projects, Forklift presents dances in intimate theaters as well as in massive outdoor venues. With past projects in over 20 communities, previous dances have included City of Austin sanitation workers, City of Austin firefighters, Venetian gondoliers, two steppers on the steps of the Texas Capitol, guide dogs and their owners, Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay, linemen and electrical technicians from Austin Energy, marching bands from Houston-area high schools and the University of Houston, the Huston-Tillotson University Baseball Team, the world’s only professional women’s baseball league, The Japanese Women’s Baseball League, and most recently, the Urban Forestry Division of Austin’s Park and Recreation Department. With a focus on relationship building, Forklift’s community-engagement process aims to keep the community at the center of their artmaking while creating innovative and award-winning art projects.
Forklift has garnered national attention with features in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dance Magazine, Texas Monthly, BBC Radio, The National Geographic Channel and NPR. Allison Orr has been named “the most outstanding choreographer” over three different years by The Austin Critics Table and in 2012 The Austin Chronicle named her the city’s “Best Movement Illuminator.” The Trash Project, the company’s large scale-production with the City of Austin Sanitation Department, was named the #1 Arts Event by the Austin-American Statesman, the #1 Dance Event by The Austin Chronicle, Most Outstanding Dance Concert by the Austin Critics Table, and is the subject of a feature-length documentary film entitled Trash Dance which received Audience Awards at Full Frame and Silverdocs Documentary Film Festivals and Special Jury Recognition at SXSW Film Festival.
Forklift’s ongoing community-based educational programs serve people who may not have access to dance in any other way. Body Shift, in collaboration with VSA Texas, is currently the nation’s only ongoing program in mixed-ability dance. Leaps & Bounds provides free creative movement classes to children from low-income backgrounds plus professional development for teachers in how to use movement in the classroom. Annually, both programs serve over 1,000 people combined.
Through their unique style of community-based dance making, Forklift seeks to broaden access to contemporary dance, engage diverse communities, and spark the creative spirit.