Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

INDEPENDENT LENS: Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity

STREB performing "Sky Walk," as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Courtesy of Esy Casey
STREB performing "Sky Walk," as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Airs Monday, March 12, 2018 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

An Exhilarating Portrait of Elizabeth Streb, the “Evel Knievel of Dance,” and her Extreme Action Company as They Defy Gravity, Embrace Danger, and Shatter Preconceptions about Age, Beauty and Art

Catherine Gund’s “Born To Fly” follows iconoclastic choreographer Elizabeth Streb as she relentlessly pushes herself and her dancers to break free of the traditional, earth-bound confines of dance.

Guided by Streb’s daredevil approach to movement in which dancers slam against walls, dive through glass, and literally fly, the film asks: Can adrenaline be a form of therapy?

When does movement become art?

Why do her “gladiators” risk injury or worse to follow Streb literally to the edges of buildings and the tops of bridges?

“Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity” premiered on INDEPENDENT LENS May 2015 on PBS.

Elizabeth Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers.

Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these superheroes challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility.

Waterfall at Millennium Bridge

"In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Born to Fly

The creator of a movement form called “POPACTION,” which is rooted in the exploration of both physical and emotional human potential, Streb’s work explores the intersections of dance performance and stunt-work and provokes ideas about how fear might enhance our experiences.

The film is told though interviews with Streb and the fiercely loyal and dedicated members of her company, exploring questions of what it means to express your vision through someone else’s body and how it feels to be the physical embodiment of someone else’s dreams.

Artificial Gravity

"In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Born to Fly

Featuring footage that spans Streb’s life and career, as well as her choreography sketchbooks, the film follows her life from her childhood in Rochester to her early days in New York City, culminating with a thrilling series of gravity-defying performances called “One Extraordinary Day,” which took place during the Cultural Olympiad leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London.

STREB in "Speed Angels," during "One Extraordinary Day" in London 2012.
Courtesy of INDEPENDENT LENS / PBS
STREB in "Speed Angels," during "One Extraordinary Day" in London 2012.

A wild and exhilarating reminder of the joy of art, “Born To Fly” allows viewers, however briefly, to imagine a more vibrant and fearless existence.

Elizabeth Sees the Doctor

"In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Born to Fly

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

This film is no longer available to stream on demand through PBS. You can find it on iTunes.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS.

"Born To Fly" movie is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @BornToFlyMovie on Twitter. #BornToFly

CREDITS:

An Aubin Pictures production. Directed by Catherine Gund. Produced by Catherine Gund and Tanya Selvaratnam. Cinematographers: Kirsten Johnson, Albert Maysles and Ian McAlpin. Edited by Alex Meillier. Associate Producer: Jessica Ruffin. Music by Adam Crystal.

Elizabeth Streb in her SoHo loft.
Courtesy of INDEPENDENT LENS / PBS
Elizabeth Streb in her SoHo loft.