Next splash: Forklift Danceworks heads to Givens Pools

Givens Pool circa 1979. Photo courtesy the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

After staging community dance performances at two East Austin pools, Forklift Danceworks has announced that its next performance will be at Givens Pool, an historic neighborhood pool on East Twelfth Street.

“Given Swims” is the final production in “My Park, My Pool, My City,” a trilogy of community-based dance works, a project designed to bring attention to Austin’s aging public pools and their severe infrastructure crisis. Most of Austin’s public pools were built between 1927 and 1990, with an average age of over 50 years. Many have near-antique pumps or cracks in their foundations.

“Givens Swims” will be performed July 19-28.

Forklift Danceworks’ “Bartholomew Swims” was performed in July 2017.

In 2017 City of Austin’s Aquatics Division invited choreographer Allison Orr and her Forklift Danceworks company to be in residency for three years. Forklift first staged “Bartholomew Swims,” a celebration of a rare success story in city’s troubled poolscape that was renovated after a five-year closure. Orr’s choreographic practice involves ordinary people as performers and for each pool production features neighborhood residents, pool lifeguards, aquatic department maintenance staff and swim team members. In 2018 Forklift staged “Dove Springs Swims/Nadamos Dove Springs,” at the Southeast Austin pool.

Givens Pool is within Givens Park, named for Dr. Everett H. Givens (1888-1962), a prominent civic leader of the black community and one of Austin’s first African American dentists. As a businessman, Givens was also owner of the Lyric Theatre, Austin’s first black movie house that also hosted live entertainment.

Read: “Everybody into the Pool: Allison Orr’s inclusive art-making is radical for an arts world that ultimately equates excellence with exclusivity.”