September 10, 2014
Director: Catherine Gund
MPAA Rating: N/A
Starring: Elizabeth Streb, Sarah Callan, Jaclyn Carlson
Copyright Holder: N/A
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 rigeur 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 breathtaking 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.