Alumni Share Experiences with Forklift Danceworks; Prepare for ‘WesWorks’

Rivera and Porquillo worked together, wiping down tables and vacuuming floors. They began with just introducing themselves

Last spring, Tamara Rivera ’21 job shadowed SMG employee Maria Porquillo, who has worked for more than two decades at Olin Library. Once a week, Rivera met Porquillo at the library to observe her movements and rhythms, and ultimately choreographed a piece for Porquillo to perform on stage. This fall, students will participate in a similar multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks.”

This October, Wesleyan will present a multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks” that transforms the ordinary, mundane, and skillful movements of facilities and custodial employees into a performance accompanied by live, original music and stories told in the workers’ voices.

Led by Allison Orr, the choreographer and artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, a distinguished fellow in the College of Environment, “WesWorks” will teach students techniques of community art practice through performance.

In these Q&As, we speak with Forklift Danceworks employees and Wesleyan alumnae Gretchen LaMotte ’18 (click to read), choreographer and programs manager and Penny Snyder ’16 (click to read), communications manager for Forklift.

Penny Snyder '16

Penny Snyder ’16

“There’s nothing in the world like going to a Forklift show. It feels almost utopian … It’s really an emotional experience to me because there is a throughline of trust that flows between the choreographers, the performers, and the audience,” Snyder said.

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Wesleyan Facilities, Custodial Staff Celebrated through Performance