Feds Help Fund Pole Dancing – For Linemen

May 8, 2013 - 10:42 AM

Superstorm  Power Restoration

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, file photo, a utility crew works to restore power (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(CNSNews.com) - An Austin, Texas dance company has received a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for its upcoming performance featuring electricity linemen dancing on utility poles.

According to the description of “PowerUP!” by Forklift Danceworks on the Kickstarter fundraising website, “This dance will be a massive outdoor production—a set of 20 utility poles, bucket trucks weaving in and out, cranes extending 100+ feet into the air, and 50+ linemen climbing and performing aesthetically sculpted choreography that intertwines their physical work —high wire repairs, fixing electrical grids, and responding to power emergencies—with personal narratives of the long process it takes to become an expert at the job.”

The working title for the “PowerUP!” performance was “Journeyman” and it’s under that title that Forklift Danceworks received a $10,000 Art Works dance grant from the NEA.

“This is the third in a series of large-scale civic spectacles and will include original music by Graham Reynolds performed by the Austin Symphony and led by conductor Peter Bay, and feature 75 employees performing on 35-foot utility poles and ten bucket trucks and cranes,” the April, 23 NEA grant announcement says.

“The NEA funding really helps,” Allison Orr, Artistic Director of Forklift Danceworks tells CNSNews.com, “First of all, it’s a vote of confidence, it gives us a certain amount of respect and credibility that helps us to bring in dollars from other organizations.”

Orr estimates the cost of the two free performances to be about $100,000. The PowerUP! Project has received over $22,000 from its Kickstarter project fundraising efforts and additional funding has come in through donations and other private grants.

“We’re a non-profit organization, so we are fundraising all the time. We have a hard working board and we have individuals and other businesses in the community who are working with us,” Orr says, “We’ve received a lot of interest. It’s a family-friendly, free, fun event so people get excited.”

Orr says the two performances planned for September 21and 22 would happen even without the grant from the NEA, “We are dedicated to this art and bringing it free to the public. So yes, we are going to make it happen, but the NEA grant is a real vote of confidence.”