UT Wordmark Primary UT Wordmark Formal Shield Texas UT News Camera Chevron Close Search Copy Link Download File Hamburger Menu Time Stamp Open in browser Load More Pull quote Cloudy and windy Cloudy Partly Cloudy Rain and snow Rain Showers Snow Sunny Thunderstorms Wind and Rain Windy Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter email alert map calendar bullhorn

UT News

The treasure amid the trash

“Trash Dance,” a film about the dignity of work by Associate Professor Andrew Garrison, premieres at South by Southwest Saturday, March 10.

Two color orange horizontal divider

At a typical movie premiere, stars dressed in thousand-dollar ensembles step out of limos and onto a red carpet. But at the Austin premiere of Associate Professor Andrew Garrison‘s “Trash Dance,” stars dressed in neon city sanitation uniforms roll up in garbage trucks.

Trash Dance performers and choreographer Allison Orr take a bow

“Trash Dance” performers and choreographer Allison Orr take a bow. Courtesy of Andrew Garrison

Before someone scoffs at their choice of transportation, Garrison wants people to see the unique beauty of the mucky 27-ton machines. After all, that was Garrison’s goal in directing, producing and recording “Trash Dance.”

The world premiere takes place during the South by Southwest® Film Conference and Festival (SXSW) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, at the Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. After the premiere, the director, producer and cinematographer will host a premiere party and Radio-Television-Film alumni gathering from 6-8 p.m. at Progress Coffee, 500 San Marcos St.

In “Trash Dance,” choreographer Allison Orr works with Austin sanitation workers and garbage trucks to create a dance performance. The film follows the daily lives of the employees and the rehearsal process that led to a final performance that features 16 trucks, 24 dancers, a piano, violin and cello.

Andrew Garrison

Associate Professor and “Trash Dance” director Andrew Garrison is an award-winning independent filmmaker with experience in both documentary and dramatic film production. 

Garrison hopes viewers will be entertained and moved by the film.

“It speaks about dignity of work and the way that the work we do can be a conscious act of beauty,” Garrison said. “Art does not end at the edge of a stage or a museum door. The film also introduces you to the people who do this work every day. You know public employees are sometimes attacked as living off taxpayers’ money. You get to meet these people and see the effort they put into the job and their personal goals. I hope that makes a lasting impression.”

After the world premieres, Garrison will look into international television broadcast opportunities for “Trash Dance.”

Including “Trash Dance,” University of Texas at Austin faculty members, staffers and students are screening about 20 films at SXSW.

Here’s a complete listing of those films and other SXSW events featuring students and faculty at The University of Texas at Austin.