Small Organizations, Big Impact

Amplify Austin starts tomorrow, and we couldn’t be more excited! If you are new to Austin or just now hearing about the big day, Amplify Austin is a 24-hour period dedicated to citizens giving back to organizations & charities that make our city a better place. Whether you have attended one of our performances or been to one of our programs, we hope we have made an impact on the way you view and live in this city! Amplifying Dance Waterloo means we can continue to produce unconventional dance performance and programming for the Austin community.

In addition to education, public space, and collaboration, community is also a vital tenet to Dance Waterloo. We believe that the Austin community is brought together through art and as citizens we should continue foster the creative growth of Austin. We also believe in the community supporting small organizations. If you’re also looking for other organizations to check out and support during Amplify Austin, here are our top picks – they are small organizations with big hearts and an even bigger impact on the city.

  1. Something for Nothing Theater

Who they are:

Something for Nothing Theater is a theater company founded in 2012. The company operates on a shoestring budget and produces Shakespeare plays in Austin’s own Ramsey Park.

What they’re about:

The Shakespeare plays Something for Nothing produces are available to members of the Austin community and are family-friendly. The company transforms the plays into creative experiences by using original music and dynamic staging.

Why we love them:

Something for Nothing focuses on improvisation and collaboration. At Dance Waterloo, we value these aspects as essential parts of the creative process and encourage the Austin community to support all forms of collaborative art.


  1. Austin Emerging Arts Leaders

Who they are:

The Austin Emerging Arts Leaders is the local chapter of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Network.

What they’re about:

Austin EAL strives to support and cultivate Austin’s artists who are just getting started in their careers. The organization helps different types of art professionals by providing both networking and knowledge sharing opportunities for members. The Austin EAL supports the Austin early-career art community by focusing on professional development throughout all art professions and disciplines.

Why we love them:

Dance Waterloo aims to educate the Austin community through different types of dance programming. We believe that education is an enlightening experience that is essential for the creative process. Education of early-career art professionals is key for Austin’s artistic community to continue to thrive. Also, our Artistic Director if Vice President of EAL!


  1. Girls Performance and Advocacy

Who they are:

Girls Performance and Advocacy is a performing arts and empowerment program that offers an opportunity for Austin girls to develop creativity by finding their own voice.

What they’re about:

Girl’s Performance and Advocacy strives to teach girls in the Austin community leadership skills, confidence, and assertiveness. The main goal of GPA is to educate each girl about her own value while teaching performers important skills through singing performances.

Why we love them:

Cultivating leadership is an important goal for many artistic disciplines, including dance. At Dance Waterloo, we strive to educate the community and our dancers in leadership, creativity, and self-expression.


Amplifying small organizations goes a really long way. Give back to the city that gives to you and Amplify Austin this week. AMPLIFY DANCE WATERLOO HERE. 

By Jasmine Crowley

Administrative Assistant

Dance Waterloo

4 Things You Need To Know Before Panorama Playground


Dance Waterloo’s upcoming performance will be one of whimsy and play. I had the pleasure of attending one of the final rehearsals before you all get to experience the magic on January 28 and 29. I must tell you, as a person untrained in dance and a curious observer I hadn’t the vaguest idea what I was witnessing. Panorama Playground, the vision brought to life by choreographers Morgan Teel and Rachael Hulse, is a piece performed in collaboration with an exhibition called Hurlyburly, ​on view at 74 Trinity Street, near the Boathouse at the Waller Creek Delta.

To my untrained eye the performance appeared whimsical, challenging, and creative. The type of movement I saw on the hills of Hurlyburly peaked my curiosity about intent, inspiration, and how as an audience member I can absorb everything there is to offer from such an experience. I interviewed the dancers and have shared their answers with you here, so that you too can have the best possible experience with this unique piece.

1. What is Hurlyburly?


Hurlyburly is an installation piece created by Orly Genger, a New York City-based artist and designer, created by hand-knotting hundreds of feet of repurposed lobster rope. But since it also looks like a gallery piece, it can have a confusing effect on viewers. Rachael, upon her first encounter with the installation, was unsure how close is too close when it comes to this massive exhibition. I experienced the same trepidation, initially. But fear not, it was the artist’s intention for Hurlyburly to be interactive and durable art, meant for children and adults alike to play upon if they wish. For choreographers, the texture of the rope, the environment created by the hills, and the topography of the location are what makes the installation interesting as a space for deliberate and choreographed movement. It is not without its own challenges, however. For Paige Edwards, a dancer with DW, ​the biggest challenge with this project has been “the physicality necessary to make the movement look stable yet free at the same time. Rolling hills of crab net is not the easiest on your body while laying on your back, running, or trying to balance.” Experiential learning had to take place quickly once the choreography moved from the studio to the performance location.

2. What can I expect when I get there?

Another unique feature of this performance is the option for each audience member to listen to their own playlist while watching the performance. Modelled after the silent disco, where people dance to music they listen to on wireless headphones, each audience member will be provided a set of multichannel headphones, from which they can choose three different playlists while they watch the show. Or, if you’re not a fan of DJ’ing your own experience, you’re more than welcome to forego the headphones and listen to the music played on the speaker.

3. What are the dancers thinking while they perform?


According to choreographer and executive director Rachael Hulse, she pulls inspiration from the uneven landscape: “when I’m moving through the improvised piece, my body tends to fall different directions based on where I am on each hill. I have to make a choice to either submit to gravity or combat it. Running, sliding, jumping..I am using my body to trace the shapes of what I perceive. I’ll explain it like this: if you were to lay a piece of vellum over Hurlyburly, my goal is to mimic the shapes with my body.” For Paige, her​ inspiration comes from living in Austin and taking in all of the beautiful aspects of the culture, topography, people, art, and architecture. She says “as dancers in the show, we constantly interact together and separately – those moments to me represent the sporadic and sometimes deliberate lengthy or short encounters that happen everyday in Austin. It’s the beautiful quirky randomness that happens everyday here.”

4. What should I hope to get from this performance?

I’ll let Rachael answer this one–“I want the audience to come away with a renewed sense of curiosity; I want them to wonder what the heck is going on, but I want that reaction to transfer to viewing their everyday environments differently. It’s playful, it’s quirky, and it’s a conglomeration of experiences we’ve seen other people have at Hurlyburly. People come to exercise, they come to play–we came up with the name “Panorama Playground” after what we saw from the top of Hurlyburly. If you take a 360 degree twirl at the top you get a view of what Austin really is. We try to capture what we’ve seen both in Hurlyburly and the playground.” We have provided an element for everyone–whether you enjoy music, enjoy the outdoors, watching dance, or just enjoying a hot beverage. This event is family friendly, so don’t feel like you have to stand still; move, talk, sing as you find most comfortable and engaging to you.

So, bring a friend, grab a pair of our headphones, get a drink, relax and prepare for a fun experience at Panorama Playground. We hope you enjoy. You can reserve your headsets in advance here.


Kelsey Hulse

Assistant Blog Editor

Dance Waterloo

The Story Behind Our Pay-What-You-Can Model

When Dance Waterloo was first formed, one of the major decisions we needed to make that had to do with funding … was figuring out the mechanics of profit from our performances.

Dance Waterloo premieres THEREFORE May 17-20, 2018. Photo: Heidi Walter

How much did we need and where was it all going to come from? We want to do site-specific work, but how could we charge for tickets? Did we even want to charge for tickets? What’s our mission? How do we put our mission into practice?

All of these questions, plus many more, led to the creation of our four tenets (community, collaboration, education, and public space) and a pay-what-you-can model of profit operation for programs and performances.

Why? We wanted our art to be approachable, physically approachable. Quite literally. We want a passersby to come up and ask what we’re doing. We want to move and create with our eyes open to where we’re creating and for whom we’re creating. We want our audience to consist of those you might not see in a theater for a dance performance.

We want our art to be approachable to the family that has young kids that can’t sit still with proper theater etiquette for 2 hours, to the people wanting to try something new but who don’t have a disposable income, even to adults that don’t want to pay for a show they won’t be able to sit through because they are active and restless and want to move around.

Lizzi Wood, dancer, surveying the site during technical rehearsals for THEREFORE. Photo: Jessica Gray

As we have developed our programming, making sure it aligns with our mission every step of the way, it became clearer and clearer that our programming needed to be pay-what-you-can in order to bring dance to as many of the hands and feet of our Austin community as possible.

We want to meet our audience halfway. We bring the art, you determine the experience. Come late, leave early, talk, be silent, sit, stand, walk around, take a break, take a picture.

Dance Waterloo’s pay-what-you-can performance, Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly (2017). Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

There can only be something to gain from a pay-what-you-can performance. People are more likely to try something new if they have nothing to lose, regardless of if they could afford it or not. We don’t want our audience to be weighing the options if this experience is “worth it” before they’ve tasted it, but instead we want the unique perspective to be reflected in the fact that each individual gets to choose a value for the event representing their encounter as well as their financial situation.

Through a pay-what-you-can model we have been able to experience for ourselves the generosity of our community in supporting the arts – and supporting others to see art no matter what hesitation they might have – to cultivate our ever growing, vibrantly weird Austin.

Updated: You can see our upcoming pay-what-you-can performance, THEREFORE, May 17-20, 2018 at Epoch Coffee (Anderson) or visit our calendar for information on our pay-what-you-can and free programming for families, for dancers, and for self. 

By Rachael Hulse

Executive Director

Dance Waterloo

Posted: December 26, 2016

Updated: May 16, 2018


Filling Green Space with Art


Rendering courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy

Earlier this year, Waller Creek Conservancy and The Contemporary Austin joined together on a one-of-a-kind public art initiative to bring the internationally-renowned known artist, Orly Genger, to downtown Austin to create Hurlyburly––the site for our upcoming performance Panorama Playground.

The Conservancy is working to restore a blighted Waller Creek in downtown Austin and create authentic places for Austinites to experience parks, green space, and art. We sat down with the Conservancy’s Communications Manager, Dana Efthim, to learn more about their mission and the parks district they are working to restore.

What is Waller Creek?

Waller Creek is a waterway running in the heart of downtown Austin that is often forgotten as many Austinites don’t even know it’s here. But the Conservancy is working to change that. We are focused to restoring and revitalizing a mile-and-a-half stretch of Waller Creek, from 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, into an ecologically sustainable waterway. The creek connects to multiple park spaces, Waterloo and Palm Park, that are being renovated into places for education and free programming.

How and why was Waller Creek Conservancy formed?

The Conservancy is a 501(c)3 founded in 2010 by three visionary leaders––Melba Whatley, Tom Meredith, and Melanie Barnes––in an innovative public-private partnership with the City of Austin.  Our goal is to bring awareness to the natural beauty, public gathering spaces, and restored vitality of Austin’s Waller Creek.

Why is it important for the community to care about Waller Creek?

Waller Creek is a great place for the people of Austin to come and enjoy green space. Our mission is to create a restored creek that will renew the natural environment, promote play, health and wellness, economic vitality, and mobility.  We also aim to engage the community through education, cultural events, and the arts.

Waller Creek Conservancy

Rendering courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy

What is the Conservancy’s vision for Waller Creek? What are you currently doing to achieve this vision?

Once complete, the Waller Creek parks district will include more than 37 acres of newly designed and connected urban parks and public space, along with more than three miles of revitalized hike and bike trails. Neighbors and community members have already been helping to shape the park spaces through community engagement activities and programs in the parks.

What kind of opportunities does the community have to get more involved with Waller Creek Conservancy?

There are so many ways to get involved! Opportunities to volunteer span from creek clean-ups to family and kids’ programming. We also have a young leaders group, GenWaller, focused on advocating and bringing awareness about the Conservancy’s mission and the project. We encourage the community to check out our free programs and sign-up at We are a non-profit, so we rely on funding from people within the community–– every dollar helps!

Why is the Waller Creek Conservancy excited about for the premiere of Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly?

As an interactive installation, Orly Genger’s Hurlyburly has welcomed Austinites and visitors to experience art along Waller Creek in such a unique way. The installation invites play and movement and this combination of art, music, and dance will ignite such a dynamic evening.  We can’t wait!  We also look forward to Panorama Playground bringing new energy and interest to Waller Creek.

Rending courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy

Rending courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy

Dance Waterloo is extremely thankful to partner with such an amazing Austin initiative.  We thank Waller Creek Conservancy for their efforts in cultivating an environment that inspires Austinites to always show love to our beautiful planet. To find out more about Waller Creek Conservancy and their new parks district, visit


And don’t forget to check out Dance Waterloo’s Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly on December 3 & 4.


By Ally Wheeler

Communications Assistant

Dance Waterloo

November 22, 2016

A Familiar Face: An Interview with Jessica Gray


National Water Dance Day, Dance Waterloo, 2016

Jessica Gray has been dancing with us for two years now. We are thrilled to create our second artistic work, Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly in just a few short weeks! We often refer to her as the Dance Waterloo “poster child”, as we have captured a ton of great photos of her throughout the past two years. Jess, originally from Rowlett, Texas, has been dancing for as long as she could walk. She attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received a BFA in Dance and is now pursuing a career in veterinary care and medicine. She plans to return to school in the near future to further her education and achieve another lifelong dream of working with animals. Jess has three older siblings, Jennifer, Chris and Edward, as well as two amazing, supportive parents, Jeannette and Brad. We asked Jessica a few questions to learn even more about this Dance Waterloo vet and her artistic mind.

What has been your favorite experience or memory with Dance Waterloo within the past two years? 

In my two years of working with Dance Waterloo, my favorite experiences has been the rehearsals. A rehearsal with Morgan or Rachael leaves me feeling enlightened, more aware, and often with a different perspective. They make dancing so much more than just movement. Their rehearsals are my playtime and my time to heal.

You’ve been in Austin for quite a while now! What made you choose to stay here post-grad? What do you love about dance in Austin?

I decided to stay in Austin post-grad because I wanted to stay in my home state of Texas, but also to be in a place that fosters an artistic point of view. Austin is a place where dreams are alive and thriving and creativity abounds – what’s not enticing about that?

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I like to write, read kooky novels, and watch cult classic films and TV shows. I also love to rock climb, to go out with my friends, and play and cuddle with my dog, Bear. Bear is my world, and my only fur-baby when I’m not helping and caring for other people’s pets.

Who has been a big support to you as you have grown as an artist?

My best friends, Maggie, Hillary, and Jennifer, have always been a big support system for me when it comes to growth as an artist and as a human being. However, my parents have always been my biggest supporters on and off-stage. My dad’s favorite memory of me growing up is driving to dance competitions and playing The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy, to get hyped for the long day ahead. It always helped calm the jitters long enough to get ready for the solo competitions.

You are currently in rehearsals with Dance Waterloo for Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly. What has this experience been like for you? What’s difficult? What’s exciting? 

Thus far, the rehearsal process for Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly has been both exciting and unnerving all at the same time. It’s a good kind of unnerving, keeping us all hyper aware and ready for anything. The studio rehearsals were a breeze, but working at the site, on the painted, recycled lobster rope, holds many colorful obstacles to overcome. I don’t realize how challenging it is until I am there trying to work through movement, and once we are done it feels like a dream, having accomplished something that felt so difficult in the moment. And then being told afterwards by Morgan or Rachael that whatever I’m doing looks exceptional is sometimes surprising but so exciting. It is very fulfilling to beat the obstacles, to take on new challenges each time and come out on top – literally, standing on little Hurlyburly hills.


Rehearsals for Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly, Dance Waterloo, 2016

Why do you think people should come see Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly

This performance is going to be cathartic, reminiscent of easier times. The piece is beautifully free and chaotic. It’s one of the most physically demanding sites I’ve ever worked on and it will be so rewarding to take some time to play like a child with friends and family. Plus, as an audience member, you get the option to choose your own soundscape to experience the piece. WHAT? That’s crazy! I would love to be an audience member myself just to experience that portion of the project. I know this is going to be one hell of a performance!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Jess! Dance Waterloo is blessed to know and have the privilege to work with such an amazing dancer and human. We hope our journey together continues! In the mean time, we will be at Hurlyburly, experimenting and crafting a one of a kind performance, Panorama Playground. You can now reserve your multi-channel headsets for this performance. We’ll see you there, December 3 & 4.


Rehearsals for Panorama Playground at Hurlyburly, Dance Waterloo, 2016

Ally Wheeler

Communications Assistant

Dance Waterloo

October 31, 2016