Dances with watersheds: Forklift Danceworks next project to spotlight the people who steward the city’s waterways


A project exploring water and the work of the people who steward it is next for Forklift Danceworks, Austin’s adventurous and celebrated performance group.

“The Way of Water” is a multi-year partnership between Forklift and the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department. It’s the dance company’s seventh partnership with a municipal department which has previously collaborated with sanitation workers, urban forestry workers, and the Austin Animal Center, among others.

Forklift received a $125,000 Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the “The Way of Water.”

“There’s always been something in our Austin water, where both creatives thrive and creativity drives much of our unique culture and sense of community,” said U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett. “This federal investment will encourage a new project, inspired by our waterways, telling important stories of our water and those who conserve and channel it through beautiful performances created by Forklift Danceworks that all can enjoy together.”

“The NEA’s generous support will propel ‘The Way of Water’ forward as we collaborate with communities to explore the histories, challenges, and futures of water as a shared natural resource,” said Allison Orr, Forklift founder and artistic director.

The project launches with “The Way of Water: Waller Creek,” a performance at the Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet Facility at Waterloo Greenway on Nov. 10-12. Set to live original music and with dramatic lighting, the performance will illuminate the perspectives of the city employees who work to keep the Waller Creek area of downtown Austin from flooding, along with the engineering systems that enable this work.

Subsequent years of the project will entail collaboration with neighborhoods in other watersheds across the city.

The project will trace the way water moves in Austin, said Krissie Marty, Forklift Associate Artistic Director and Community Collaborations Director. “Through the movement of work and community stories, ‘The Way of Water’ will delve into our deep ties to water — as a resource, recreation, and worksite — in Austin. We look forward to partnering with Austin Watershed Protection and neighborhoods to tell these stories.”

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