I saw STREB on 4/8/18. They're a dance group that does a combination of dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, and let's just call it danger. They're named after their founder and choreographer, Elizabeth Streb. I read about them in the New Yorker a few years ago and have had my eye out for an upcoming performance, I was really jazzed to see them.
The performance was at their home in Brooklyn, sort of a warehouse space. I checked in at the desk and was told I could get my free soda and popcorn at the concession stand! "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Manhattan anymore." The Brooklyn hipster vibe was heavy in the air. Which didn't bother me!
I knew that their performances involve a lot of dangerous things like running into walls, falling from two stories, things like that. Not quite juggling an active chainsaw, but along those lines. Streb celebrated her partner's fortieth birthday with a solo dance in which she put out a fire with her own body. So I was tickled, while waiting for the performance begin, to see a cute young dancer walk by who had a small piece of toilet paper on the bridge of his nose, with a little blot of blood on it. I thought, "If that's the extent of your injuries, honey, you're doin' pretty good."
The title of the piece was SEA, which stands for Singular Extreme Actions. We were invited to take pictures, so I did. There were eight movements, or scenes:
Scene 1: AIR
The nine dancers in the company bounced on a trampoline and flew off the trampoline onto the floor. The focus of the piece was the flying, not the bouncing. I was sitting in the fourth row, and I couldn't see the dancers land, that part of the floor was blocked by the people in front of me - - which made it so much more exciting. The emphasis was truly on the flying, the landing was absent. I teared up a bit during this piece. I was expecting the performance to be exciting and a little scary, but wasn't prepared for it to be so beautiful.
Scene 2: TILT
Four dancers (two male, two female - - all of the dances were equally balanced with men and women) leapt and fell on a slanted floor. There was no music in this piece, but I think the floor might have been miked. it sure was loud when those dancers hit the floor. The highlight of this piece was a moment where all four dancers stood on their heads and then used their hands to walk backwards, up the slanted floor. Astonishing.
Scene 3: SQUIRM
Six dancers stacked, one on top of the other, in a lucite box. Another dancer squirmed up along the side, along the glass. And after she came out of the top, she dove back in and went out the bottom.
Scene 4: STEEL
This was the only truly scary piece. A steel girder spun around. My pictures show one of the dancers holding onto it and being spun around. That wasn't the scary part. The scary part was when the girder was spinning around close to the floor and one of the dancers (Associate Artistic Director Cassandre Joseph) laid on the floor bobbing her head up and down, narrowly avoiding being decapitated. Oy.
Scene 5: TIED
A male and female dancer were connected at the waist by a piece of rope. They wove around each other, fell to the floor, did all kinds of troubling things. The music for this piece was lyrical and melancholy, which added to the impact.
Scene 6: SLAM
Six dancers slammed against the wall. At certain points two or more dancers hung by their hands from the top and another dancer slithered down their bodies and was held up by their flexed feet.
Interlude: T-shirt cannon. Sadly, I didn't get one. I thought about spending $20 to buy a T-shirt, but I have so many T-shirts already...
Scene 7: ROCK
One dancer stood in the center of a half-circle structure and ran from one end to the other to rock it back and forth. The other dancers ran onto it, jumped off, laid down, etc. It was more exciting and fascinating than I'm describing it.
Interlude: raffle. One of the prizes in the raffle was a role in an upcoming performance. No THANK YOU.
Scene 8: SILVER
The dancers climbed onto or into a 21-foot silver ferris wheel. Some laid down in it, holding onto the sides as it turned upside down, and later another dancer was walking around it, walking around them. The same on the OUTSIDE of the ferris wheel, with a dancer at the top. More jumping off the sides. A thrilling finish for the show.