Opening September 26th at Laemmle NOHO 7
“EVEL KNIEVEL OF DANCE” ELIZABETH STREB AND HER EXTREME ACTION COMPANY CHALLENGE PHYSICS AND EMBRACE FEAR IN THE PURSUIT OF HUMAN FLIGHT.
Elizabeth Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers. Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility. BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity traces the evolution of Elizabeth Streb’s movement philosophy as she pushes herself and her performers from the ground to the sky. Revealing the passions behind the dancers’ bruises and broken noses, BORN TO FLY offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art, inspiring audiences hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence.
“Streb’s rough-and-tumble dances are about velocity, physical stamina and her unwillingness to bow to gravity without a fight.” -William Harris, New York Times
“Born to Fly captures fully both the danger in the work and the exhilaration the dancers get from it…it’s seeing bodies move in ways you know they never have in human history.”
-Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle
BORN TO FLY was sparked at a STREB event when Elizabeth offered me a surprising honor. I got to shimmy 35 feet up a tress and drop a bowling ball into the waiting hands of Zaire Baptiste, emcee extraordinaire. When I scrambled back down, I felt exhilarated, giddy, and eager to celebrate with Zaire. I had tasted the thrill. He gave me a high-five but cautioned, “You hesitated.” In that moment, I learned that an extreme action hero has to practice without fear and with trust and devotion. This flood of emotion inspired BORN TO FLY. BORN TO FLY declares the power and necessity of art in practice. The film approaches Streb and her Extreme Action Company with the same curiosity, openness, and questioning that Streb exhibits with regard to physics, risk, power, fear, and beauty. By interpreting Streb’s story, BORN TO FLY dares us all to prioritize the extraordinary in our everyday lives. The optimism you hear is real. Look and see how powerful, unique, and scary it can be. Everyday I encounter a person or have an experience that demonstrates how much our society needs to be injected with a sense of confidence, urgency, and creative intelligence. The world climate of economic and social inequality can too often leave people feeling completely powerless, apathetic, desperate, or lost. By investigating potential limitations imposed by age, gender, and injury (among other things), I made this film to incite viewers to challenge the boundaries of their imagination: those we set for ourselves and those that are set for us.
CATHERINE GUND – Director/Producer
Catherine Gund is an Emmy-nominated producer, director, writer and organizer, and the founder of Aubin Pictures, a non-profit media production company. Her media work focuses on arts and culture, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, the environment, and other social justice issues. Gund’s most recent project, What’s On Your Plate? (Discovery’s Planet Green; Berlin International Film Festival), is a critically-acclaimed, multi-media project about kids and food politics, featuring a documentary, book and curriculum. Her previous works include Motherland Afghanistan (PBS; AFI Fest), the Emmy-nominated A Touch of Greatness (PBS; Best Doc – Hamptons Film Festival), and Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance (Best Doc – Chicago Underground Film Festival).
Once called the “Evel Knievel of Dance”, Elizabeth Streb’s choreography, which she calls “POPACTION,” intertwines the disciplines of dance, athletics, boxing, rodeo, the circus, and Hollywood stunt-work. The result is a bristling, muscle-and-motion vocabulary that combines daring with strict precision in pursuit of public acts of “pure movement.” Over the course of two decades, Streb has performed in theaters large and small. She has served as artist-in-residence at the world’s top art museums, including Los Angeles MOCA, the Wexner Center in Columbus, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Streb is a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award (1997), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1987), and numerous other awards and fellowships. She holds a Master of Arts in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, a B.S. in Modern Dance from SUNY Brockport and two honorary doctorates (SUNY Brockport and Rhode Island College). In 2010, Feminist Press published her book, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero.