The Essential Iconoclast—Elizabeth Streb
Behind The Scenes with Streb and Company
The Essential Iconoclast
Cory Nakasue in rehearsal with STREB
Story by Cory Nakasue for The Dance Enthusiast
Photos by Alvaro Gonzalez for The Dance Enthusiast
|The STREB dancers in rehearsal, Photo Alvaro Gonzalez for The Dance Enthusiast|
Streb, a MacArthur Fellow, and a self-described “action architect” is a kid in her own candy store of machines and contraptions that are all designed with one primary goal: “to expand the capacity of action to tell its own story.” Streb goes on to explain, “If I’m going to make a 40 minute dance to a Beethoven's such-and-such, that’s really not what movement does best. You’re tampering with its nature by putting it to music at all. Music is the true enemy of dance as we know: it artificializes movement. Movement is causal, so (the two) really don't go together like that.”
Even though she doesn’t use music, Streb compares her machinery to an orchestra needing different keys and pitches to examine the capacities of sound, musing, “It’s a whole episodic symphony of one move after another." The particular “instrument” the performers are working with when I arrive at rehearsal is the circling ladder,which Streb describes as “a pure diameter.” She continues, “circles are really pure action, otherwise you have to stop and start constantly. That’s not real. It’s tampered with.To turn is everything. That’s where the forces get generated…depending on where the body is, it (the forces) comes as a surprise to us."
Referencing her magnificent steel invention (between issuing words of warning and encouragement to the dancers) Streb reminds us, "We spent a lot of human hours trying to figure out how to hang on to this thing…we even have a t-shirt that says ‘never let go’.”
A Day in Rehearsal with STREB: The Slideshow
Whether she’s smashing protons or using the pneumatic ejection systems, scaffold towers, bungees, air rams, and zip lines to study the impact of bodies (up to 50 mph), I am definitely having a real moment as I watch the company run through Ascension, the ladder piece. This work is impossible to “mark”–it’s all real, all the time.The margins for error are almost nonexistent.
In parting, Streb leaves us with this: “I want people to watch us move and think, ‘that doesn’t follow the rules I’ve been taught operate on earth…”
PERFORMANCES AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY
December 14, 15*, 16, 20, 22, 2011 at 7pm
December 17 & 21, 2011 at 2pm & 7pm
December 18, 2011 at 3pm
Performance runs 70 minutes with no intermission
*Following the December 15th performance there is an Artist Talk with Elizabeth Streb and some of the STREB dancers, moderated by Kristy Edmunds. The Talk is free with the ticket purchase.
TICKETS are General Admission 5 for Adults, 5 for Children 12 and under
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT STREB HERE