CriticalDance Forum

Elizabeth Streb
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Author:  trina [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Elizabeth Streb

I hear that Elizabeth Streb is coming to Seattle's Moore Theatre. I know we started an earlier thread on this...has anyone seen her recently.?? I hear her work is highly athletic, if not dangerous. I have a former dancer in my company LEAVING GROUND/DANCE who turned down an offer from them becasue he thought it was too dangerous! And he was a former gymnast!!

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Here's the earlier topic trina, using the 'search' function at top right.<P> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  wroginski [ Wed Nov 22, 2000 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

I saw Streb in the spring---obviously a different show. Very athletic, very dangerous very unforgetable. Not sure I'd call it dance---for which my daughter will scold me. I do however like her work and would go and see it again.

Author:  trina [ Wed Nov 22, 2000 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Wroginski, welcome to criticaldance!! Have you posted here before. I am originally from New Jersey...haven't lived there in a while. Where did you see Streb perform, in New York City?

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Dec 04, 2000 9:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Here is a preview piece on the Streb Company performances in Seattle this Thursday, December 7 through Sunday, December 10.<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  BabsLights [ Mon Dec 04, 2000 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Doesn't Elizabeth refer to her work as pop action - not dance?

Author:  trina [ Sat Dec 09, 2000 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Yes, Streb refers to her work as "pop action", not dance.<P>I went to her show "Action Hero" last night, and here is my review.<P>I went to the show, quite honestly, not thinking I would like it. The idea of hearing a "thud" as the dancers hit the mats, did not sound partiularly appealing. But I have to say I thorougly enjoyed it. The exhiliration, the "dardevil/stunt" theme (using superimposed,archival video footage of Houdini, So. California surfers, a man who would have a cannonball shot into his stomach, among others) was very clever. <BR>The actual choreographray was a well-modulated (quick, rapid succession of dancers leaping and falling from great heights, twisting their bodies in the air alternating with slowly whirling, harnessed dancers suspended on wires, for example)highly theatrical, almost "nouveau-circus" like movement extravaganza. The set featured a specially designed, huge truss, outfitted with wires, video camera and lined with mats of many thickness and colors. I saw the death-defying leaping and gravity-teasing antics as taking the beauty of dance onto a higher level-a larger metaphor, if you will. As a footnote, Streb won a MacArthur grant in l997, and used part of her money to have designed and built, this extraordinary apparatus. Has anyone seen "Tap Dogs" reminded me of a much more sophisisticated version of that truss.<BR>The audience gasped and oohed and ahhhed throughout the show. I wish the audience as bigger, though. I was in the balcony and there was only a handful of people. I believe the orchestra was relatively full.

Author:  Marie [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 1:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

I saw Streb's Action Heroes last night (Sat.)<P>I can understand why wroginski would question whether or not it was dance, I questioned whether it was really a performance. It was physically demanding but seemed like a lot of gymnastic stunts, more of a physical exhibtion. <P>I can't say I was particularly moved artistically by this show. They lost me right from the start. The show opens with large letters (which look like they are made of stone) that spell out STREB falling to the ground with a crashing sound. Five techs walk across the stage, pick them up and carry them off. Better lighting could have disguised this or they could have been flown off in the dark; five guys lumbering across the stage made the aesthetic seem cheap. <P>A lot of vocalization was used: "Stop," "Go," and counts which I felt was overdone. More silent moments or the use of more prominent sound or music could have changed the energy--it just seemed to go on at about the same level for most of the show. The sound was an extremely weak element, the effects were cartoonish noises like "boooiiinnnggg" that weren't supported by much music so they seemed silly and extraneous. A driving score at points could have really punched the whole thing up, like when the performers are jumping on and off of the trampoline.<P>The video could have been integrated into the work more cleverly too. The image of Houidini wrestling with the straight jacket stays on the screen for too long so the dancer hanging upside down in front of him mistakenly appears to be an actual representation of Houdini. Several people I talked to were disappointed in the dancer's movements, they felt that since she didn't have a straight jacket as well, she wasn't too exciting. As a dancer I thought what she did was very difficult but I could see why a non-dancer would be less than impressed.<P>The only place that really captured me was when one of the performers holds on to a bar suspended by a cord and twists and spins silently in front of a black and white video of grass blowing behind him. The rest of the show was so loose, most of the performers smiled or grimaced as they would in a gymnastic exhibition which took me out of the realm of performance.<P>I still can't figure out why Elizabeth Streb would want to do a show like this when the Cirque du Soleil exists. Maybe what she's shooting for just demands a bigger budget. To me this seemed like a first draft of a bigger idea. There were huge gaps of time while props/mats were moved and re-arranged. <P>I sat under the balcony which dripped incessantly through the show because of condensation; people actually got up and moved during the performance. Is it always like that at The Moore? The theatre was freezing when we came in, I hoped it was warmer on stage for the sake of the poor performers. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited December 10, 2000).]

Author:  trina [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Marie...I wished we could have met after the show! Actually, I saw the Friday show. Somehow, it escaped me that you were actually in Seattle...oh well. If you come to see Netherlands Dance Theatre, can you let me know and we can maybe meet?<BR>Anyway...about the Moore Theatre. Actually, it WAS in much worse shape a few years ago. Apparently, someone in the front row of the balcony stood up once too quickly during a rock concert there several years ago, and fell over the front railing (obviously a problem with raked angle of balcony)!! Unbelievable! It has since been fixed. The problem with the Moore is that it's quite old and cavernous. They keep doing patchwork fix-ups, but I think they'd have to re-do the whole thing from the ground up to take care of many of the structural problems!!<P>Getting to the show itself--whew!<BR>I have a different opinion...I just simply enjoyed it for the sheer physicality of it. You mentioned Cirque de Soleil--I feel that Cirque is really a whole different "kettle of fish" so to speak. What Cique de soleil does is undoubtedly more sophisticated, "European-circusy"; Streb is more of a "naive, American, let's wow 'em and put on a show" type of deal.I agree about the beginning of the show- the letters crashing to the floor was a bit jarring-was she trying to prepare the audience for the noise and falling that followed, perhaps?; and the guy crashing through the glass at the end of Act I was a bit (well,more than a bit)gratuitous.<BR>I liked the way Streb tried to involve the audience; came out and introduced the dancers and had them each do a "trick". I MOST definetly did NOT like her telling the ages of the dancers...that seemed goofy!! Otherwise, I generally liked it!!<P>[This message has been edited by trina (edited December 10, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited December 10, 2000).]

Author:  trina [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 3:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Stuart--you mentioned in the "Pilobolus" thread that Streb was well-received in London. Did that indicate critical reveiws, or more just audience and "word of mouth" reaction that you encountered?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 11:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

When I went the audience, apart from me, enjoyed it, but the critics did not. Here is Judith Mackrell's review:<BR> <A HREF=",3604,297682,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,3604,297682,00.html</A>

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Dec 11, 2000 9:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Here is one more preview piece, this one from Sandi Kurtz in The Weekly:<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Marie [ Mon Dec 11, 2000 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Trina, I really liked the physicality too (but I'm biased because I know one of the performers and always think what she does is spectacular), but I thought the elements of the show as a whole needed more development. It's one thing to do a preview or a festival with the "lets put on a show" attitude but when you're charging me $35 USD (which works out to about $50 Canadian) I expect production value! I want good sound, lights, set changes, I want it all. Image <P>I was just really really glad I wasn't one of the performers when Streb announced their ages and *weight*, LOL. <P>I mentioned Cirque du Soleil because Streb has said that her work incorporates:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"elements from boxing and circus acts"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR>I agree with you that what Cirque does is a different thing altogether but I'm still left wondering where Streb is trying to take this. Is she going for the general audience, a la Cirque, or the more sophisticated theatre audience? If she's going for both I'm not so sure she's doing it successfully. It felt unfocused to me, i.e., the colorful circus-like unitards juxtaposed against the industrial set. The artistic content isn't really sophisticated enough for a dance audience and the movement isn't gymnastic enough to compete with Cirque, or if you prefer an American reference, The Blue Man Group whose production values are a lot higher than Streb's. <P>

Author:  trina [ Mon Dec 11, 2000 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

Marie, agree with you about the unitard costumes....they were a bit out of place. Don't think she appeals necessarily to Cirque audience,nor to Blue Man Group, which is a HIGH CONCEPT production, if ever there was one. Once again, we're comparing apples and organges. To me, Streb is pure physicality and basically high velocity gymnasticy movement. Yes, the ideas could have been developed more, but I would say that about most shows I see, most pointedly about Momix and ISO. Most of their pieces seem more like studies to me: cool ideas that don't go anywhere; sometimes seems like one "eye candy" afte another.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Dec 11, 2000 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Elizabeth Streb

I certainly wouldn't put Streb and Momix in the same category. I find the latter, particularly the earlier work, inventive, stimulating, witty and often beautiful in its combination of dance and gymnastics. I'm afraid I got no sense of any of these virtues from Streb and after an initial fascination with the power of the performers, the roughness of the movement and the lack of a dance aesthetic soon made me very frustrated.<P>Unless I hear of a major change of style by the company, I won't be going again. <P>The friend I took to the London show did enjoy it. It would be boring if we all thought the same.

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