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'Trash Dance:' Documentary Puts Austin Waste Workers in Limelight
A scene from the climactic, nighttime performance in "Trash Dance."

If the film "Trash Dance" has a mantra, it’s simple: Power to the people. Those people and that power, however, don’t conjure up the familiar themes of power through politics but, strangely enough, dance.

And garbage trucks. 

The film follows choreographer Allison Orr’s work with Austin Energy and Solid Waste Services to make meticulously synchronized dance routines featuring everyday utility service vehicles. So it’s power to the people, who give you power and haul your trash.

Orr has been choreographing these mechanized movements since 2001, when she established Forklift Danceworks, but it wasn’t until last year when "Trash Dance" premiered at South By Southwest that she began to garner acclaim outside of Austin.

Following a  New York screening, "Trash Dance" opens in Austin Friday at Violet Crown Cinema. It's also available for streaming on the "Trash Dance" website. 

Andrew Garrison directs, and Austin composer Graham Reynolds provided the score for Orr’s promenade of public utility vehicles. But the stars of the film are the oft-forgotten city workers in the trenches.

The film's climactic performance, on the slick tarmac of the Austin airport, drew over 2,000 spectators with scores clamoring outside the gates for a glimpse. Orr and Reynolds received so much feedback that they’ve planned another performance this September, featuring the high wire drama of “linemen” that will perform on 20 utility poles over 100 feet in the air.

Until then, you can catch "Trash Dance." Director Garrison says the Austin screening will include some of the performers featured in the film.

"When I’ve had the ability to do it, we’ve brought some of the performers to these festivals," he says, noting two performers recently joined him at a New York screening. "And it was just wonderful. It’s just wonderful the way the audiences embrace them and then how they talk with audiences. It’s really been a pleasure to see that happen."

Below, a trailer for "Trash Dance."

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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