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PBS show to feature Austin Energy workers, equipment in choreographed performance


November 26, 2013

The Public Broadcasting System will air an "Arts in Context" program featuring Austin Energy employees and equipment in a choreographed performance. The program documents choreographer Allison Orr’s efforts over two years to bring her PowerUP arts performance to fruition. Orr shadowed Austin Energy lineworkers and technicians to learn more about their craft, machinery and tools. Her work culminated with a free public performance over two nights that attracted more than 6,000 people and showcased more than 50 Austin Energy employees. Their bucket trucks, cranes and equipment were choreographed to music performed by a string orchestra led by Austin Symphony conductor Peter Bay during the 90-minute performance.

The premiere on KLRU-TV, Austin’s PBS station, airs at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 28. A trailer for the show is posted on KLRU's website. PBS will run the program nationwide on 56 stations across 26 states, including in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Orlando, Sacramento and San Antonio.

Orr is the award-winning director and choreographer of The Trash Project, which celebrated the work of the city of Austin’s solid waste employees while drawing attention to the skill and artistry in their jobs. She chose Austin Energy to bring attention again to public service employees and their work that often goes unnoticed, the utility said.

"Power is just a vast, vast project," Orr said. "We’re really working to try to tell the full story and the idea for me is really to try to communicate to people all the hundreds and hundreds of hands and minds that have to touch something to make something function so that the whole system works."

Austin Energy said it opened its doors to Orr and her production company to enable her to fully capture the role of a public power utility in the community. "The community got to see the hard work and intricate and sometimes dangerous nature of our jobs and the skill and safety needed to perform the work," said Austin Energy Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Mele. "They got to see that public power employees care about the communities they serve and they care about our customers.

"This project was a great opportunity to show our citizen-owners how we keep the electricity on for their homes, schools, businesses and organizations, and participating was very rewarding to the organization," she said.

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