Texas choreographer Allison Orr does things the hard way. And as viewers of filmmaker Andrew Garrison’s Trash Dance will come to appreciate, the whole world is a better place because of her seeming lack of common sense.
On some level, Orr is either an idealist or a masochist. She has the audacity to believe that art can transform lives by allowing individuals to show their true selves to complete strangers by communicating through the common language of art.
Orr’s art project to prove her thesis is a choreographed dance of sorts using a couple dozen giant trash trucks and their associated crews. Most of these modestly paid folk have second jobs, many are single parents, and it is clear from the onset of the project that few, if any, have time or desire to put on a show they don’t understand for the local population who see them as second class citizens with nothing to offer but sweat and a tolerance for bad smells.
But Orr is unflappable. She spends months working with the crews, throwing trash, picking up dead animals, all the while convincing them to give her their time for the sake of art.
Some eventually agree, and after weeks of practice, the day of the show arrives. Despite a raging downpour at the old airport runway that serves as the stage, a sold-out crowd of thousands attends Orr’s Trash Dance and no one is disappointed. The performance is touching, fun and even beautiful at times. But more importantly, for the men and women putting on the show and those watching, it offers proof that art can reach across any void, self-inflicted or societal, to connect us all.
Trash Dance will screen at the Boulder Theater at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.
This story is part of our complete coverage of BIFF 2013.