Free, day-long festival celebrates Austin’s furry companions and the people who care for them—showcasing public services & pets looking for new homes
Forklift Danceworks and Austin Animal Center (AAC) will present Dances for Dogs and People Who Walk Them, a performance and free community event on April 23, 2022. The day-long event will include waived adoption fees, shelter tours throughout the day, and activity booths with local pet vendors and community partners.
“The Austin Animal Center is proud to partner with Forklift Danceworks on their latest project with the City of Austin featuring the amazing AAC staff and our furry friends,” said City of Austin Assistant City Manager Stephanie Howard-Hayden, who will dance in the performance with Bruiser, a chihuahua-pug mix adopted from the center. “Thank you to the Forklift team for putting this together. The work that Forklift does is part of what makes Austin, Austin.”
Dances for Dogs will feature the movement and stories of Austin Animal Center workers, local dog lovers, and their dogs. Forklift collaboratively creates performances with workers and communities based on the movement of work and everyday life. The dance company’s seventh performance with a City of Austin department, Dances for Dogs will shed light on the stories of the AAC staff that helps pets and their owners every year, including making sure 97% of the thousands of animals that enter the facility are saved in Austin every year.
“A lot happens behind these doors that people don’t realize. From Animal Care and Vet Services, to our Animal Protection Officers, Adoption Services, and all our volunteers — we all have our specialties and we work well together to help these animals find their forever homes,” said Brendan Gemmell, Homelessness Public Health Educator on the Outreach team at AAC, whose role builds trust and connection with community members experiencing homelessness. “I’m very proud to be a part of it. With this project with Forklift, I’m excited to spotlight our resources and all that we do to help people keep their dogs.”
Forklift's artistic collaboration with Austin Animal Center revisits choreography from Dances for Dogs and People Who Walk Them, which was performed by people and their dogs at Zilker Park in Austin in 2000. At the end of the performance, everyone in the audience is invited to join the finale, the Insta-Dog-Dance, a unique chance to appear in a Forklift performance.
“There is a natural dance that happens every day between dogs and the people who walk them — a dance that reflects their unique personalities, relationships, and environments,” said Gretchen LaMotte, Forklift choreographer and programs manager. “Whether trotting along calmly or tugging on the leash ready to run and play, a dog’s movement tells a story. And the people who care for dogs are an integral part of that story. We at Forklift are thrilled to partner with the Austin Animal Center staff and look forward to celebrating their commitment to the animals and people of our city.”
At 1pm, doors open to guests with their dogs for the outdoor performance, which begins at 2pm. AAC is open from 11am to 7pm with waived adoption fees all day as well as periodic tours.
Dances for Dogs is free and open to the public. Free ticket reservations are encouraged to guarantee entry. Sign up for Forklift’s email newsletter to be one of the first to reserve tickets.
About Forklift Danceworks:
A national leader in community-based dance, Forklift Danceworks creates dances with people who may not consider themselves dancers, including fire fighters, warehouse employees, and urban forestry technicians. Through collaborations with over 25 communities to date, Forklift’s dances tell often-unheard stories and showcase the skilled movement of the people whose work sustains our daily lives. Ultimately, Forklift Danceworks deepens understanding of the jobs essential to urban life, fosters connections between citizens and across communities, and creates opportunities for civic change.
About Austin Animal Center:
Austin Animal Center (AAC) is the municipal shelter for the City of Austin and unincorporated Travis County as well as a national leader in the No-Kill sheltering community. AAC’s mission is to promote humane, compassionate treatment of animals and responsible pet ownership, prevent pet homelessness wherever possible, and provide a safety net for the pets who need sheltering. In 2021, AAC found safe placement for over 97% of more than 11,500 pets who came into the shelter.