As a community they have come from many parts of the world. They come in to work late at night, in the small hours and the early morning, and in a week they may cook more than 15,000 meals.
And one winter they danced.
In February 2017, Forklift Danceworks, the ’62 Center and Williams College Dining services presented Served! — a new work Forklift created with dining services staff and performed in dining services spaces. (Later they held a free screening at the ’62 Center of two short films on the making and the performance of Served! — Williams’ Director of Videography Jay Corey made both films.)
Working in a restaurant can feel like choreography, says Steve Klass, Vice President for Campus Life. He has himself worked as a waiter, bartender, self-taught chef and manager, and he admires the people in these roles.
He also admires the ways Forklift works with people who may find dance new, giving them space and time and confidence to build a work in real time.
Forklift has become known for creations like Trash Dance, a collaboration with the men and women who drive garbage trucks in Austin, Texas.
“It’s important to tell the stories of people working very hard in the invisible choreography that sustains our daily lives,” says Krissie Marty, Forklift’s associate choreographer and director of education.
She and artistic director Allison Orr have come into the college kitchens and invited students to join them. Marty has met people who have worked in these kitchens for 30 years, she says. They have talked about their families and their homes.
Isabel Andrade, an international student from Ecuador, met Ada Moreno, a chef who has come to the U.S. from Honduras, and felt comfort in the connection.
Over the winter they worked any of the staff who want to be involved and with students, Williams faculty in music and dance to fully choreograph and compose the new work. And the night bakers will still come in at 3 a.m. to shape the dough for the next morning’s hot bread and rolls.
This story first ran as a sidebar in the Holiday 2017 Berkshire Magazine. My thanks to Anastasia Stanmeyer. Image courtesy of Williams College Dining Services, Forklift Danceworks and the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance