Treasure Amid the Trash


Treasure Amid the Trash

Associate Professor Andrew Garrison's "Trash Dance" illustrates beauty of garbage trucks, premieres at SXSW Film Conference and Festival


At a typical movie premiere, celebrities 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 rolled down Congress Avenue in garbage trucks.

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 took place during the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW) on March 10 at the Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. After the premiere, Garrison hosted a premiere party and RTF alumni gathering at Progress Coffee, 500 San Marcos St. 

In "Trash Dance," Garrison and choreographer Allison Orr work 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. At the final performance, trucks elegantly float across an abandoned airport parking lot. Like a ballerina's arm, a garbage truck crane slowly sweeps across the sky, as Orr's eyes fill with tears.

Garrison hopes viewers will be just as 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."

"Trash Dance" will screen three more times at SXSW, and Garrison will look into international television broadcast opportunities for "Trash Dance." For screening times and more information about "Trash Dance," visit

Including "Trash Dance," UT faculty members, staffers and students are screening about 20 films at SXSW.

Here's a complete listing of films being screened and other SXSW events featuring student and faculty at The University of Texas at Austin:


For more information, contact: Lauren Phillips, 512-471-2182 or Nick Hundley, 512-471-7209