Allison Orr is the Artistic Director of Forklift Danceworks, a company dedicated to creating original performances inspired by the movement of everyday life by engaging a diverse body of participants and audience members. From Venetian gondoliers to firefighters, trained dancers to Elvis Impersonators, maintenance men to women over 65, Allison Orr creates award-winning choreography with all kinds of performers. 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.
Orr was named Best Choreographer of 2003 and 2008 by the Austin Critics Table. Her most recent large-scale work, The Trash Project, was named the #1 Arts Event of 2009 by The Austin American Statesman, the #1 Dance Event by The Austin Chronicle, and was awarded Most Outstanding Dance Concert of 2009 by the Austin Critics Table. Her work has been funded by the City of Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Austin Community Foundation, and the City of Venice, Italy. In 2005 she received a commendation for her work with visually impaired people from the City of Austin Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities. In 2010 she served as a guest artist at the American College Dance Festival South-Central Regional Conference and was commissioned to choreograph the kick-off event for Austin's Fusebox Festival involving over two hundred two-steppers on the steps of the Texas State Capitol.
Orr’s choreography has been featured in documentaries in film and book form, including Braindamadj’d… Take II—a film about a man’s recovering from a disabling car accident; Left to Our Own Devices—a film exploring art-making and disability; Venice Dance, a soon-to-be published photography book showcasing dancers in Venice, Italy; and Dogs with Jobs—a program on the National Geographic Channel showing Orr’s choreographic work with guide dogs. In 2011, Austin filmmaker Andrew Garrison will premier a feature-length documentary about The Trash Project, Allison's recent large-scale project with the City of Austin Solid Waste Services Department.
Orr is on the dance faculty of Austin Community College. She has taught a wide variety of students, including children, adults over 65, and people with disabilities. Before founding Forklift Danceworks, Orr taught dance and studied with MacArthur Award winner Liz Lerman and performed with Robert Moses and Janice Garrett in the Bay Area. Orr received an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Mills College.