Allison Orr
This award was generously supported by the
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Allison Orr creates award-winning choreography with unlikely performers—from sanitation workers to firefighters, Venetian gondoliers to power linemen. Orr’s dances feature the often-overlooked choreography of work that sustains our everyday lives, inspired by the beauty and virtuosity in the practiced, habitual movement of labor. Building on her background in anthropology and social work, Orr has honed a methodology of ethnographic choreography over the past 20 years that engages community members as coauthors and performers in the creation of large-scale civic spectacles.

Presented to audiences ranging from as small as 60 people to over 6,000, Orr’s works have been commissioned and supported by various presenters and funders including the Fusebox Festival, the Kyoto Arts Center, the MAP Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts, Engaging Dance Audiences/ Dance USA, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Austin, Texas, and the City of Venice, Italy. Orr received an MFA in Choreography, studied with mentors Deborah Hay and Liz Lerman, and was recently named a Distinguished Fellow at Wesleyan University. She is founder and artistic director of Austin-based Forklift Danceworks, where she collaborates with a team of artists including fellow choreographer Krissie Marty, designer Stephen Pruitt, and composer Graham Reynolds.
Photo by the artist.

  • Ray Aviles performing in The Trees of Govalle, presented by Forklift Danceworks at Fusebox Festival in collaboration with Austin's Urban Forestry Program, Govalle Park, Austin, Texas, 2015.
  • Electric linemen performing in PowerUP, presented by Forklift Danceworks in collaboration with Austin Energy, Travis County Expo Center, Austin, Texas, 2013.
  • Ivory Jackson, Jr. performing in The Trash Project presented by Forklift Danceworks in collaboration with Austin Resource Recovery, Austin Studios tarmac, Austin, Texas, 2011.