Austin dance company highlights lifeguards, maintenance crew with pool dance

City of Austin pool dance. (KXAN Photo)
City of Austin pool dance. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Choreographer Allison Orr with Forklift Danceworks finds her art in the places most people overlook.

Her stage for the past six months has been the Bartholomew Pool in northeast Austin. And perhaps the most unique part, the dance isn’t just about the pool workers, it’s performed by them.

“What for many people feels mundane and every day and turn it into performance, it allows people to have a whole different perspective,” Orr said of her latest project, as she’s created a performance based on the movements of lifeguards and pool maintenance workers.

“There’s an invisible choreography of work that happens every day to keep our city running and we are interested in helping to tell the stories of people whose voices we often don’t hear from or whose work we all rely upon but might know very little about,” Orr said.

The idea is showcasing the beauty in objects and people we usually take for granted. Giving the community insight, and the performers a chance to shine in the spotlight.

“It shows the struggles we go through, the behind the scenes, I think it’s great,” said lifeguard and dance participant Adrian Ortega. “And if we can boost morale and get more lifeguards next year, I’m all for it.”

  • On KXAN News Today on the CW Austin, Alicia Inns is LIVE from Bartholomew Pool to show the newest choreography coming to the pool

It’s a timely production as the city faces an aging aquatic infrastructure. Many pools are 50 years old while their life expectancy is only 30.

“We are hoping through three summers of performances focusing on three different east Austin pools will help be a catalyst for greater civic engagements,” Orr said.

This isn’t Orr’s first rodeo. In fact, she’s worked with five different city groups, creating dances with the Austin Fire Department and choreographing a big production with the garbage collectors.

“Back in 2015, we did a collaboration with the Urban Forestry Department and it might have been the opening night of that that director of parks Sarah Hensley said, ‘Can you please do pools next’,” Orr said.

For now, she’s focused on a dance for a city pool and its people — so by the time the crew takes a bow, maybe you will have learned a thing or two.

“In the end, I think that’s when we will know that we’ve been successful–when regular citizens are feeling more connected. Both city employees and citizens feel more connected and more understanding of each other,” Orr said.

To learn how to reserve a spot for performances or volunteer to help, visit Forklift Danceworks. The show debuts next weekend.

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