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News & Events

Meet Our Keynote Speaker: Allison Orr

 This year at our Annual Conference, we are proud to present Allison Orr as our keynote speaker who will initiate our conversation on ​Creating Community​, this year's conference theme. Allison will be speaking at our KTB Opening Luncheon on Monday, June 11. Her keynote will speak to our community's unique opportunities to educate, cultivate and motivate cross-sector partnerships in unexpected places.

Who is Allison Orr? 

Orr is an award-winning Austin choreographer and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Forklift Danceworks. She works with ordinary groups of people to create extraordinary pieces of dance. In the past, she has worked with firefighters to create a vision of artistry as they preformed their dangerous tasks, professional baseball players and has projects that include 30 roller skaters. The dances she creates are unique to the profession she is highlighting; she wants to have her choreography reflect their lives and common humanity. 

Orr holds two degrees; anthropology and choreography from Mills College and Wake Forest University. She combines these two degrees in what she refers to as ethnographic choreography. Inspired by the beauty in the practiced, habitual movement of labor, Allison's dances feature the often-overlooked choreography of work that sustains our everyday lives. Working with everyday people, she shows the world the beauty that can be found in even the most simple of movements.

Orr is one of 45 artists and creators throughout the United States to be named a 2018 Doris Duke United States Artists Fellow. Orr is the only Texan to be honored and the award comes with an unrestricted $50,000 grant. Orr was also named Best Choreographer of 2016 and 2017 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 Trash Dance features 24 employees and 16 large sanitation vehicles from the Austin Resource Recovery. Taking two years to create, Orr's work celebrated Austin's sanitation workers while drawing attention to the movement and skill of their work. Not only does she include everyday jobs into her choreography, but also those with disabilities. In her work, Body Shift, she celebrates those with disabilities, inviting them into a safe place to move and explore dance. Throughout her many projects and classes, people of all ages, background and those with disabilities can enjoy dance the way that she does.

​Photo Credit: Forklift Danceworks

 About Forklift Danceworks:

Founded in 2001 by Allison Orr, Forklift Danceworks presents innovative performance projects with diverse communities. Collaborating with 20 different communities so far—including sanitation workers, warehouse employees, and retired Negro League Baseball players—their dances show the skilled movement and tell the often unheard stories of the people whose work sustains our daily lives. Through their work they hope to spread a wider understanding of different people, bringing to light the ways we are all connected and intertwined. 

​Orr will bring a fresh perspective to Conference this year; sharing all that she does for the Austin community and inspiring all of us to build community in unexpected places. We look forward to her keynote and are counting down the days until Conference! REGISTER for our conference to hear more from Allison Orr. 

Written by our Communications Intern, Savannah Burkhart.

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