WFU facilities staff to star in performance this fall

Large-scale dance production to take place on Hearn Plaza


  • WFU and Forklift Danceworks are partnering with facilities staff to co-create a large-scale performance on Hearn Plaza on Oct. 4 and 5.
  • “From the Ground Up” will highlight the skill and grace in the work they do.
  • Forklift is a dance company that activates communities through a collaborative creative process.

Wake Forest and Forklift Danceworks are co-creating “From the Ground Up” – a dance featuring the movement and stories of custodial, maintenance and utilities, landscaping, construction, and waste reduction employees.

Through a series of residencies, Forklift artists are partnering with Wake Forest Facilities and Campus Services staff on a large-scale performance to take place on Hearn Plaza on Oct. 4 and 5. More information on tickets will be shared closer to the event.

Forklift Dir. Allison Orr ('93)

Forklift Dir. Allison Orr (’93)

From garden beds to residence halls, from door frames to rooftops, facilities staff work across campus every day. “From the Ground Up” will highlight the skill and grace in the work that keeps the campus running.

Wake Forest’s Interdisciplinary Performance and Liberal Arts Center (IPLACe) has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New England Foundation for the Arts to help fund the interdisciplinary collaboration with Forklift Danceworks – a dance company based in Austin, Texas, that activates communities through a collaborative creative process.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the talents of our staff,” said John Shenette, vice president, Facilities and Campus Services. “Our team’s work impacts the campus environment every day.”

“Showcasing the contributions of this amazing group through a public performance is a once in a lifetime opportunity; one that we are very grateful to be a part of.” John Shenette

Forklift crew and students shadow the facilities and campus services team:

Getting a rundown of morning duties from Darlene Penn and Melvin Lee.
London Thomas (left) and Roger Roberts share the ins and outs of their work.
Andrew Norton (left) and Chris Boston share lessons in landscaping.
Jay Huffman teaches table saw techniques to Kengo Aoshima ('21).
Ben Venable oversees Eva Dickinson ('19) and Renting Cai ('21) on the lathe.
Rob Hager installs lighting in Poteat Residence Hall with help from students.

During the multi-visit residency on the Reynolda Campus, IPLACe has connected Forklift with staff, students and faculty for this community-based art making project. The Forklift team will be on campus from May 13-16 to continue job shadowing and planning for the performance.

Wake Forest students will be working as support staff for Forklift and the facilities team in the fall by helping with behind-the-scenes preparations.

“This is a hands-on, immersive learning experience for our students who will be working as stage managers, designers, musicians, lighting assistants and show coordinators when the performances happen,” said Cindy Gendrich, theatre professor and director of IPLACe. “But equally important is that students are learning that the boundaries they think exist between people on campus are imaginary, or at least unnecessary, ones – and that we all have way more in common than we tend to expect.”

Founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Allison Orr (‘93), award-winning Forklift Danceworks presents innovative performance projects with diverse communities. Wake Forest is the second of three universities collaborating with Forklift Danceworks.

To learn more about the size, scale and purpose of Forklift Danceworks productions, visit their website and watch the trailer for “Trash Dance.” The award-winning documentary film chronicles the creation of a Forklift production with waste management crews in Austin, Texas.

Through a multi-visit residency on the Reynolda Campus, IPLACe has worked to connect Forklift with staff, students and faculty for a community-based art making project celebrating the work of the University’s facilities and campus services team. The performance will be held on Hearn Plaza Oct. 4 and 5.

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