Allison Orr is the founder and artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, a dance company based in Austin, Texas. Defying easy description, Orr’s work challenges audiences to expand notions of dance and performer while posing the question: who and what can be presented on stage? Orr finds the raw material for her work among the stories and everyday experiences of ordinary people, spending months researching and immersing herself in the community she is engaging. Uncovering that which is essential to the life of a community but often goes unnoticed is central in Orr’s work, as she seeks to give voice to people who may be marginalized or frequently overlooked.
One of her most renowned works, known as "The Trash Project", featured members of the City of Austin's sanitation deptartment, telling their stories and showcasing the beauty of their everyday movements. Her most recent works include "PowerUP", a collaboration with the Austin Energy employees and "Play Ball", a performance with the Huston-Tillotson University baseball players. She has gained local and national attention for her choreographic works as well as for her involvement in the community. 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 nearly 1,000 people combined. Allison believes that by celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary and creating an environment of authenticity and acceptance, she can demonstrate that all people are inherently creative.