Born to Fly, Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, director Catherine Gund
One of the earliest heartbreaks a child has is when she realizes she will not be able to fly. Choreographer Elizabeth Streb never let go of that dream. Influenced by 60's Judson Dance members Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown, Grand Union and the magic of circus trapeze acts feats of wonder, STREB has devoted much of her career making visual what was said could not be done. She is today, to dance, what Jerzy Grotowski was to experimental theater in the ‘60’s. She is not afraid to listen to her own muses and inner artist voice. STREB caries on Grotowski edict that her dancers, like his actors, must be able to accomplish what we have been told is impossible for human beings to do. For STREB it is to soar through the air like a bird with no fear. Gathering together a group of well disciplined dancers with a heightened desire for adventure and endorphin reward Streb founded her own company and school. What Gund successful accomplishes is that we become that fly on wall that goes goes with STREB on a commissioned adventure to London to document walking up the curved wall of a modern building, kissing the sky and leaping off of buildings and bridges in a disciplined choreographed work, It was conceived for an Olympic mindset and rightly so given the skill and athletic commitment athletes and her dancers share.. Born to Fly is a heart stopping, thrill seeking attempt to do the impossible. You watch her push her dancers who are quite thrilled and sometimes scared to push the boundaries of human physical endeavor and in doing so they redefine the borders of dance. Gund captures and builds the cinematic tension when they face unexpected detours and the challenging adversarial weather conditions. Born to Fly sometimes makes one feel one is not absorbing an artfully directed and edited documentary but smack dab in the middle a Tom Cruise action film. Watching Born to Fly was more more thrilling than a roller coaster ride that is seeming out of control but not. It is the STREB exploration of how far can the body be pushed and still be called dance. that challenges the audience and puts them subjectively in flight. Brava!
( version of this review first appeared in Westview News September 1st)
Watch my interview .it is a perfect window on the brilliance of Born to Fly , Elizabeth Streb and Director Catherine Gund
and here is the trailer
(cc with attribution)