Krissie Marty / Forklift Danceworks
Krissie Marty / Forklift Danceworks
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Notice the work around you. Learn from someone at work. Ask them about their job. Questions to get started:
How long have you been doing your job? How long have you worked here/there?
How did you get into it?
What do you love about your job? Or what is your favorite thing about your work?
What is hard or challenging about it?
What do you have to know to be good at this job?
What would you want people to know about your job or the work you do?
If you are able and conditions allow, work alongside this person. Be of use and try the work with your own body.
Try these questions with someone you know or someone you don’t know. Learn from a friend or family member, or someone whose work you encounter regularly, or someone you are just meeting whose work supports your daily life. Share their answers and what you learn here or with someone else.
Working in the mediums of dialogue, participation, and collaboration, Krissie Marty makes dances with people who aren’t traditionally considered dancers. As Associate Artistic Director of Forklift Danceworks, she most often engages city employees in dance-making. Krissie created and directed RE Source, featuring the employees and machinery of a 125,000 square foot Goodwill recycling warehouse. She also co-choreographed Served - Williams College, PowerUPfeaturing Austin’s electrical utility, Play Ball Downs Field on a historic Negro League baseball field, and The Trees of Govalle featuring Austin’s Urban Forestry Program. She helped to conceive of and design My Park, My Pool, My City, co-directing each performance in the trilogy. Krissie holds an MFA in Choreography from the University of Iowa, and her community-based choreography has been performed in partnership with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, Stratford Circus (London), Chateau de Cazals (France), and Adugna Dance Company (Ethiopia).
Electricity is something that we as people take for granted everyday. Living in a country where the norm for us is luxury for others is something that we must all come to appreciate from time to time. My father is an electrician and a foreman, and deals with huge projects that rely on electricity. One of the most memorable times Ive had was working with him and the company from projects that started with digging holes in the ground to run huge pipelines, to eventually a full size building working on the lights in the ceiling. After asking several questions about his work life and working with him side by side, it definitely changes my perspective on life and not only humbles me but makes me appreciate the life that we live in and the work that is needed for us to enjoy this lifestyle.
Me: How long have you been doing your job?
Father: I’ve been doing electrical for 34 years now. Started out as an apprentice and then worked my way up to an electrician to eventually a foreman.
Me: How did you get into it?
Father: I dropped out of college and knew I needed to find a career that made good money and something I wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of my life. I’ve always worked with my hands and I knew that out of all the construction positions electrical made the most money so I went for it. I had times where I was disappointed from dropping out but I have never regretted it to this day.
Me: What do you love about your job/ what is hard or challenging about it?
Father: Everything. I love the challenge that comes with it. I love yelling and being mad when I don’t get something. I love making the impossible possible, from certain restrictions that we must follow too deadlines, to eventually seeing the project come to a close.
Pov: (While working with my father and seeing the challenges that arose, when I say there were challenges there were. Looking at the plans and having to abide to what the inspector wants and to what the owner of the building wants to what our boss wants done was quite overwhelming but seeing my father complete it with flying colors was something to admire.)
Me: what do you have to know to be good at this job?
Father: You need to be okay with failure and need to learn how to problem solve on a bigger scale. Just like engineers and programmers need to be problem solvers, so is the same for electricians. You need to know how to bend pipe, to hook up disconnects, knowing electrical codes, to knowing which size of wire to use for what kind of job, to know what materials are needed for a certain job or tools for that matter. You really need several years of experience to understand what is the goal of the job.
Me: What would you want people to know about your job?
Father: I would want them to know that being a construction worker in particular an electrician, is a valuable position in society and deserves the same recognition as someone who went to college for a career. Never frown upon someone that works in a dirty job because without those people, society wouldn’t be as luxurious as we would want it and lifestyles would be a lot different. We must always appreciate the workers that do the jobs people would never dream of doing, because they really are the backbone of this country.
After sitting down with my father and asking him these questions and reflecting on my own experiences while working with him, it has definitely made me appreciate the “dirty jobs” and the workers behind them.
I spend a few hours with this black man I know and who plays with numbers all day which seems to be the most boring thing ever but he assures me there is magic in numbers. He reminds me that the world is made up of numbers and the financial accounting piece is only one part of it. We discuss his daily routine that at first seem monotonous and rigid but I soon discover that there is thinking involved in managing money, there is a kind of science that is used to untangle the web of taxes but he recalls with a genuine fondness the expansive creativity required in reconciling the numbers with all the available information.
His greatest joy is witnessing tears or huge smiles when he has helped someone save or even receive money they hadn’t expected. And I’m surprised when he talks about the ugliness of accounting but most especially money. People are afraid of a tool, he calls it a tool, that has so much power over our lives or perceived power, so he tells me. The tool talk is interesting and a perspective I’ve never considered. The power over my life is palpable and familiar, I want to think I have power over it, money that is but for whatever reason, I’m no different than anyone else who feels powerless to money. He says our somewhat dissociative relationship to money is why the accounting profession will always grow and flourish, not because it’s hard or requires any real intellectual prowess but out of fear.
I think about the accountant guy the next time I swipe my card and when I go to reconcile my bank statement, something I do once maybe twice a year. Truth is I fall back into my daily routine of letting money rule me and I shell out a portion of my earnings to the accountant guy because I recognize that unleashing myself from my internalized fear of money will be a journey best conquered one day at a time.
I recently had a conversation with one of the aircraft mechanics at my local airport asking if he would mind sitting down and talking to me about his career in maintenance. He said he’d love to. His name is Brian, and he is a retired US Navy crew chief, who now works on small GA aircraft for a local flight school. We started with his early Naval career. I asked him, “What made you want to join the Navy for maintenance?” He said he didn't want to work on them, he wanted to fly them. He couldn’t because he got anthro’d out for being too tall. He told me he was very upset at first but came to enjoy working on the jets, and seeing the pilots succeed in their mission while flying “his” jet.
He was in the Navy for 24 years, and deployed on US aircraft carriers to both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force in the 1990s. Brian said ship life was miserable but his work was one of the most rewarding feelings he felt, and that he continues to feel the same way to this day. His work now pales in comparison to before. I look up to Brian in many ways, but in large part due to his ability to enjoy the process of life, and to accept heartbreak and move forward to new light, and have a wonderful career doing so.