From sanitation workers to firefighters, Venetian gondoliers to professional baseball players, power linemen to forestry technicians, Allison Orr creates award-winning choreography with all kinds of performers. Challenging audiences to expand notions of dance and performer, Allison finds the raw material for her work in the stories and 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 Allison’s work, as she seeks to give voice to people who may be marginalized or frequently overlooked.
Allison was named Best Choreographer of 2003, 2008 and 2013 by the Austin Critics Table, “Best Movement Illuminator” by the Austin Chronicle, one of Tribeza Magazine’s Top 10 Austinites, and one of eight “Extraordinary Texans” by Texas Highways Magazine. Her large-scale work, The Trash Project, was named a #1 Arts Event by the Austin American-Statesman, #1 Dance Event by the Austin Chronicle, Most Outstanding Dance Concert by the Austin Critics Table, and is the subject of a feature-length documentary film entitled Trash Dance.
Allison has been commissioned three times by the Fusebox Festival and was the single US choreographer selected by the Kyoto Arts Center as part of NPN’s Asian Exchange program in 2015. A guest artist for numerous dance programs including the American College Dance Festival, Texas A&M, and the University of Maryland, Allison gives frequent lectures and talks, and was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Texas Commission on the Arts statewide conference. Her work has been funded by the City of Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the MAP Fund, numerous foundations, and the City of Venice, Italy.
Allison was the 2015-16 Menakka and Essel Bailey Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment at Wesleyan University where she directed The Artist in the City—a hands on course in her community-based dance making practice.
As teacher, Allison has taught a variety of students, including children, adults over 65, and people with disabilities. Before founding Forklift Danceworks, Allison taught and studied with MacArthur Award winner Liz Lerman and performed with Robert Moses and Janice Garrett in the San Francisco Bay Area. Orr is a native Texan and holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Mills College and a BA in Anthropology from Wake Forest University.