'The Trash Project II'

The trash dance returns!

Dances with cranes: SWS employee Don Anderson makes metal pirouette.
Dances with cranes: SWS employee Don Anderson makes metal pirouette.

From the moment the performance ended 17 months ago, people have been asking Allison Orr when she is going to present The Trash Project again. The unusual dance production, created with the cooperation of the city of Austin Solid Waste Services Department and featuring 24 department employees and 16 large sanitation vehicles, made such a profound impression on the people who saw it – transforming the way they view the men and women who pick up their trash and recycling – that they were eager to see it again and for more Austinites to see it, too. Well, it took her some time to hammer out all the details, but the Forklift Danceworks artistic director finally has an answer for the project's fans: Aug. 27 & 28, 2011. On Thursday, Feb. 17, a very pregnant Orr – her second child is due the first week of March – broke the news in a press conference at City Hall, where she was introduced by fan and City Council Member Laura Morrison. The encore performances will again be at the former airport tarmac outside Austin Studios, feature the same sanitation vehicles and Solid Waste Services employees as before, and will again be free. The only difference will be that instead of providing seating for 700 people as she did with the original production in 2009, Orr will provide seating for 2,000 – about the number that actually showed up for the performance. Orr projects the cost for bleachers for that many people at $20,000, and she used the press conference to kick off a Kickstarter campaign to raise half that amount by April 1. A link to the campaign can be found on the Forklift website, www.forkliftdanceworks.org.

Orr called The Trash Project the biggest project she has ever undertaken as an artist but added that it ended up being one of the most beautiful performances that she's ever seen – not just of her work but of any work. To remind those in attendance just what she was talking about, she showed a few minutes of film from the documentary that Andrew Garrison has made about The Trash Project, then introduced three project participants, all SWS employees, to share their talents. Orange Jefferson played some tasty harmonica over a track from the show's score by Graham Reynolds, while Ivory Jackson rapped about the department "doin' what we do." ("Tippin' cans and loadin' bags to the north and the south./In the east and the west, we be knockin' it out.") Then Anthony Powell broke it open with some pop-and-lock moves. It took me back instantly to that extraordinary night 17 months ago when a crowd of thousands cheered Austin's sanitation workers as heroes. This production's return is most welcome and deserves our support.

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The Trash Project II, Allison Orr, Forklift Danceworks, Solid Waste Services Department, Andrew Garrison, Graham Reynolds, Ivory Jackson, Orange Jefferson, Anthony Powell

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