This summer, Forklift Danceworks created Givens Swims, the final performance of My Park, My Pool, My City. Givens Swims featured the everyday movement of the people who maintain and swim at Givens Pool. From neighborhood teens to community elders, the story of the pool was told by people who have long lived, worked, and played around this historic place. In this series of blog posts, hear from four interns who joined Forklift’s artistic team for the performances.
From Matt Crawford, Theatre Major at Wake Forest University, Summer 2019 Artistic Intern
My first encounter with Forklift Danceworks came through a college seminar class I took two years ago at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There was a screening of Trash Dance that Forklift’s Founder Allison Orr attended, and after the showing I remember thinking, “Wait, this is in Austin?” I’ve lived in Austin almost all of my life, but I had never heard of Forklift until I was away at college. My next thought was: “How can I find an opportunity to get involved with this?” I found that opportunity two years later, when Allison, Krissie, and Gretchen came to Wake Forest to meet about Forklift’s upcoming performance there. I came to meet them and one of the first things they said was, “Oh you’re from Austin? Do you wanna intern with us?” Of course I said yes, and now, just a few months later, I can look back on an incredibly fulfilling summer.
Coming back to Austin to work on Givens Swims has been incredible. For one, I was able to be a part of the cast for the show, and since I’ve always loved performance, this was a high point. Even more important than that though, I was able to be a part of something bigger than myself and something that will undoubtedly change Austin’s history. Not only did Givens Swims shine the spotlight on a community that deserves some extra recognition, but government officials, including the mayor, were among the many audience members in attendance. Despite all the great attention, what really makes Givens Swims incredible is the beautiful cast involved. Every person that we worked with, from the youngest to the oldest, has a deep and integrated story that strengthens their community as a whole. It brought me so much joy to see everyone in that cast bring their stories with them to rehearsals and performances to shape a piece of art bigger than themselves.
I especially appreciated the stories of the kids that I worked with. Even though there were a few times where the old man in me wanted to say “back in my day” to them, they really did impress me. I could just tell how much they truly care about their community, its future, and each other. This became fully apparent to me a day or two before our first performance. The kids did not seem like they were listening to much of what I said and I was concerned that they wouldn’t know what choreography to do, but as soon as we got in the pool, they did all of the choreography perfectly. It was then that I realized that I had not given them enough credit. They are smart kids, and I trust that being a part of Givens Swims has inspired them to stay active in their community and to work for its benefit. If they are a representation of the rest of their generation, then I believe that the future is in good hands.
I am deeply grateful to the cast I had the privilege to work with. They have all welcomed me into their lives and shared their stories of Austin with me! I have them to thank for making my hometown feel even more like a home.