Born To Fly – A Breathtaking Jaw-dropping Documentary

One of the aspects that you will notice throughout the course of the documentary film is the intense desire Streb has to invent unprecedented movement, and putting it in context of a dance avant-garde that dates back to Tisha Brown, who made use of harnesses and ropes to allow performers to make their way down walls like they were sidewalks.

Interviews with former and current Sreb performers emphasize how dangerous these performances can be. Although it is tempting to judge the Choreographer for some of the risks that she allows her dancers to take, it is worth noting that boxers, bull-riders, and circus clowns do equally risky maneuvers as a matter of course. Such a comparison may attract scrutiny to the choreographer’s high art claims, and Catherine Gund opts to exclude any external voices that might challenge the artistic authenticity of this body of work.

Whether one refers to it as mere entertainment, art, or sport, some of it is simply jaw-dropping. Although the performance footage may cut before the viewer is satisfied, the end of the documentary features a long section that more than compensates for it. On the eve of the London Olympic Games of 2012, Elizabeth Streb launched a series of performances ending in one in which the huge London Eye played the role of a spinning stage for the choreographer’s dare-devil dancers. In this part, more than any other party of Born To Fly the viewer begins to comprehend the elation that has to balance the high risks that Elizabeth Streb’s dancers take.

It is easy to understand why the adjective “grisly” is one of Elizabeth Streb’s favorites. In Born To Fly, the performers–each of whom the audience is forced to conclude are certainly bonkers–dodge I-beams and throw themselves against plexiglass with cult-like commitment. The breathtaking and dazzling documentary Born To Fly is all motion and joy. Catherine Gund, the film’s director carefully takes us through the artistic journey of Elizabeth Streb through Haight-Ashbury in the seventies to the cozy cluttered SoHo building where she shares with Laura Flanders. Rehearsal and performance footage shows an oeuvre committed to defying physiological limitations and physics, as well as an architect’s eye for symmetry. An Avante Garde and singularly focused talent, Elizabeth Streb bends high-risk routines to her invincible will. And if jarred joints and wounded buildings follow along, they are a simple price to pay when your life-long goal is to see people fly.…

The Intense Choreography and the Life of Elizabeth Streb

In 1975, Elizabeth Streb relocated to New York City with no practical skills and only four hundred dollars in her bank account. Despite having no work experience, Streb was able to secure a job as a cook, something that came to her naturally. Later on, she launched STREB/ Ringside, her first dance company. Streb’s work was powerful and abrasive. Soon, she caught the attention of the New York Times, which featured a piece on the choreographer describing her routine as witty. To date, Elizabeth Streb still treasures this high praise.

Born To Fly fundamentally focuses on Elizabeth Streb, but also gives a glimpse of the dancers she taught. In an industry as small and focused as its own, it immediately becomes apparent that Streb’s students are drawn to her like a progressive, spikey-haired Mother Hen. The film features a background of the people showcased in order that the viewers might learn what drove the dancers to do what they do and why they are determined to keep on despite the challenges associated with such high standards.

The choreographer herself might be modest enough or reluctant not to refer to it as a movement, but her instituted “pop action” is an impressive and usually terrifying sequence of feats. We witness rehearsals where the performers duck beneath a rotating steel beam rhythmically. Every couple of seconds narrowly escaping fast and direct impact, no performer seems like they would rather be anyplace else. Some routines culminate in propelling via a glass plate, horrifying and masterful. On behalf of the squeamish, you will cover your eyes as many times viewing this as you would in a run-of-the-mill slasher film (or at the horror of paying off a collections request). However, the good thing about Born To Fly is that there are stakes. A student narrates a harrowing story that would easily make you question whether the nobility of the cause is justified, but goddamn if the student’s positive outlook and perpetual optimism do not inspire.

The documentary culminates with 1 Extraordinary Day together with the 2012 London Olympic Games. In some of the performances, Elizabeth Streb alongside are seen bungee jumping from the Millenium Bridge and attaching themselves to every single EDF Energy London Eye spoke. Streb’s dances are equally exhilarating, and the audience is well enamored. Born To Fly is a great film for people who are not familiar with Elizabeth Streb and her great accomplishments as well as those who are. Some audiences might consider the documentary uncompromising and fawning in its apparent love for the meticulous choreographer. Once you watch Born To Fly you also become drenched in love for Elizabeth Streb and her contributions to dance.

Elizabeth Streb is not your common choreographer. Her work since the 1980s in New York has as much in common with Performance art and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatic feats as with contemporary dance. Portraying how the sexagenarian with spiky hair has used to her advantage, Catherine Gund’s documentary film is a perfect maverick artistic sensibility portrait, even if it will make some audiences crave for more performance footage. Fest viewers will find Born To Fly both visceral and lively. Beyond fest, Television outlets that are art-minded will view the film as a natural fit.…

Elizabeth Streb – The Mind of A Superb Choreographer

Produced by Catherine Gund and Tanya Selvaratnam, Born To Fly is a documentary about Elizabeth Streb. It narrates the story of a pursuit that crashes, swings, and leaps. The film portrays Elizabeth Streb as a choreographer who extols the values and virtue of dance as a carnival sideshow, high-risk daredevilry, and contact sport. It portrays Elizabeth Streb as a high-standards ringmaster. Director Catherine Gund’s exciting film provides an inspiring view of Elizabeth Streb and her tireless efforts to create phenomenal displays of what she refers to as pop action with Extreme Action Company’s acrobatic dancers from Brooklyn. However, the documentary–most appropriate for pubcast and festival showcases–may induce skepticism in some audiences, seeing Elizabeth Streb as some sort of cult leader, complete with Kool-Aid-sipping followers.

In Born To Fly, Catherine Gund emphasizes Elizabeth Streb’s controlling character early on, in an amusing and revealing sequence that portrays Streb–a spiky-haired and bespectacled dynamo in her early sixties–attentively planning the seating order for a dinner party she is arranging alongside her partner. Later, as the choreographer waxes excitedly about high-risk dance routines that sometimes lead to critical injury, Elizabeth Streb pre-emptively brushes off any criticism of her technique. In Streb’s opinion, anything that is too safe does not constitute action. Based on the excerpts of the performances of the Extreme Action Company that are present throughout the film, Straub’s work on Born To Fly can be described as nothing but safe. The dancers throw themselves against plexiglass walls, avoid spinning I-beams by ducking, drop from different heights on what seems to be inadequate safety mats, dodge blocks suspended from ropes inches above their heads, and often participate in maneuvers that might be viewed as extremely high-risk for battle-scarred stuntmen. The film’s grand finale is a sequence of phenomenal feats–dangling from a gigantic Ferris wheel, walking on the sides of buildings, and much more–which before the London Olympic Games of 2012 was performed as public performance art.

Interestingly, the dancers of Elizabeth Streb seem in every aspect as attentive to detail as Streb herself while portraying immense appreciation for the opportunity to risk limb and life in their collaborations. When DeeAnn Nelson, one of Elizabeth Streb’s dancers, describes the injury she suffered that broke her back, ending her career, she seems almost apologetic for interrupting the technique. Likely to induce uneasiness and fascination in equal proportion among audiences hereto not familiar with Elizabeth Streb’s phenomenal work, the film suggests in a teasing manner that various avant-garde virtuosity performances could be equally enjoyed by die-hard dance fans, venturesome aesthetes, as well as World Wrestling Entertainment enthusiasts.

Elizabeth Streb is an individual who understands precisely who she is, and so does Catherine Gund as she narrates the choreographer’s phenomenal story to the world. Elizabeth Strep spent her early childhood in Rochester, New York where she was drawn to the art of dance. As her passion for dance developed, Streb grew tired of the gentle connotations that are characteristic of common dance and decided to pursue dance from a more experimental perspective. Hints of emotional abuse in the choreographer’s youth speak to her initiative to express and impress. To push herself to her physical limits and the likes of similarly meticulous dancers under the choreographer’s wings. Elizabeth Streb is the lower risk version of Tyler Durden, trading in havoc for some type of magnificent chaos.…