Forklift Danceworks' 'Play Ball!' Benefits Historic Downs Field
Forklift Danceworks is known for their large scale projects, which tend to feature real people performing dances that are based on their actual jobs. They've done performances with sanitation workers ("The Trash Project") and Austin Energy employees ("PowerUP"), among others.
Their newest project is "Play Ball!," a baseball-inspired dance which will be performed by the players and coaches of the Huston-Tillotson Rams. The dance will be performed on (and also benefit) Austin's historic Downs Field, which during its decades-long history has been home to not just the Rams, but also several semi-pro teams and at least two Negro League baseball teams. Among the many legendary ballplayers to play on the field are Satchel Paige, Willie Wells, Willie Mays, and Buck O'Neil.
The field itself was actually instrumental in the creation of "Play Ball!" Lisa Byrd, director of Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, was looking for a way to draw attention to Downs Field and proposed the idea to Forklift Danceworks artistic director Allison Orr, who was already interested in creating a baseball dance. The resulting work celebrates the decades-long history of Downs Field.
It'll premier on Friday, May 9, as part of a gala fundraiser aimed at renovating the field. On the following Saturday and Sunday, there will be two free performances of "Play Ball!".
May 9 - 11
at Downs Field, 2816 East 12th Street