Expected to attend: Director Catherine Gund, Subject Elizabeth Streb, and Laura Flanders
Soar, slam, and crash—that’s what happens when you cross the Judson Dance Theater tradition of postmodern dance with American daredevil Evel Knievel. If you pictured New York choreographer Elizabeth Streb and her Extreme Action Company, that’s not a coincidence. As Catherine Gund’s exuberant yet thoughtful portrait makes clear, Streb has taken cues from both sources—along with influences ranging from circus acts to Hollywood stunt work—in evolving her philosophy of movement and art, as well as her high-flying company and its unique style of high-impact, dare-all contemporary dance.
Streb’s “PopAction” aesthetic demands herculean efforts from her hyper-fit and fearless young dancers, several of whom candidly relate the exhilaration, exasperation, matchless highs, and desperate lows that a life in extreme dance can entail. Streb, for her part, reflects on her earliest influences and role models, including a gruff adoptive father and Judson Dance Theater doyenne Trisha Brown. Archival footage blends with glimpses of rehearsals and performances, as well as home life with her partner, journalist and author Laura Flanders, as the couple prepares a small dinner party for distinguished friends like Bill T. Jones and Anne Bogart.
Culminating with exhilarating footage from the 2012 Olympics—audacious acrobatic dances off London’s Millennium Bridge, down the face of its City Hall, and in the spokes of the giant London Eye Ferris Wheel—Gund’s film joins Streb in asking about the relationship between art and motion, while complicating our notion of the physical and social potential of the body in action.
— Rob Avila
AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D303
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts