BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity
Must End Thursday, Sept 25
DIRECTED BY CATHERINE GUND
Elizabeth Streb’s Extreme Action Company is to American Ballet Theater as Spider-Man is to a National Geographic special on arachnids. Working out of an industrial building in Williamsburg, her troupe hones dangerous, mind-boggling feats: hybrids of dance, acrobatics, performance art, theater of cruelty, and maybe just plain cruelty. The spiky-haired Streb, outfitted in motorcycle boots and de rigueur black everything, is a surprisingly gamine woman whose charisma is as palpable as the affection and compassion she affords her dancers. Catherine Gund’s exhilarating documentary records Streb’s latest forays into gravity-defying actions as well as wonderful archival footage that records her early decades of work, leading up to the MacArthur “genius” grant she received in 1997. Two of many jaw-dropping spectacles that punctuate the movie: Streb dancers bungee-jumping off London’s Millennium Bridge and dangling fearlessly from the London Eye. Streb earns her reputation as the Evel Knievel of Dance.
USA • 2014 • 82 MINS.
“A portrait of a maverick artistic sensibility. Routines that sometimes suggest a meeting of Busby Berkeley and Looney Tunes violence… makes for jaw-dropping viewing.”
– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“Dance as contact sport, carnival sideshow and high-risk daredevilry (and)…the artist as demanding ringmaster. BORN TO FLY teasingly suggests that some displays of avant-garde virtuosity could be enjoyed equally by venturesome aesthetes, dance enthusiasts and devotees of World Wrestling Entertainment.”
– Joe Leydon, Variety
“Magnificently captured sequences make for heart-stopping suspense and sometimes horror as dancers perform acts not only astonishing but also violent.”
– Pat Aufderheide, documentary.org