MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, Elizabeth Streb has dived through glass, allowed a ton of dirt to fall on her head, walked down (the outside of) London’s City Hall, and set herself on fire, among other feats of extreme action. Her popular book, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero, was made into a hit documentary, Born to Fly directed by Catherine Gund (Aubin Pictures), which premiered at SXSW and received an extended run at The Film Forum in New York City in 2014. Streb founded the STREB EXTREME ACTION COMPANY in 1985. In 2003, she established SLAM, the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. SLAM’s garage doors are always open: anyone and everyone can come in, watch rehearsals, take classes, and learn to fly.
Streb has been a featured speaker presenting her keynote lectures at such places as TEDxMET, the Institute for Technology and Education (ISTE), POPTECH, the Institute of Contemporary Art (in conversation with physicist, Brain Greene), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (in conversation with author A.M. Homes), the National Performing Arts Convention, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the University of Michigan, Chorus America, the University of Utah, and as a Caroline Werner Gannett Project speaker in Rochester NY, among others.
Rough and Tumble Alec Wilkinson’s profile of Elizabeth Streb, appeared in The New Yorker magazine in June, 2015.
Streb received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award in 1997. She holds a Master of Arts in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, a Bachelor of Science in Modern Dance from SUNY Brockport, and honorary doctorates from both SUNY Brockport and Rhode Island College. Streb has received numerous other awards and fellowships including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987; a Brandeis Creative Arts Award in 1991; two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessie Awards), in 1988 and 1999 for her “sustained investigation of movement;” a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2013; and over 30 years of on-going support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 2009, Streb was the Danspace Project Honoree. She served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and is a member of the board of the Jerome and Camargo Foundations.
Major commissions for choreography include: Lincoln Center Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, MOCA, LA Temporary Contemporary, the Whitney Museum of Art, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the Park Avenue Armory, and London 2012, the Cultural Olympiad for the Summer Games.
Born to Fly aired on PBS on May 11, 2014 and is currently available on Netflix and iTunes. OXD, directed by Craig Lowy, which follows STREB at the 2012 London Olympics, premiered at the IFC theater in New York City on February 2, 2016. Streb and her company have also been featured in PopAction by Michael Blackwood, on PBS’s In The Life and Great Performances, The David Letterman Show, BBC World News, CBS Sunday Morning, CBS This Morning, Business Insider, CNN’s Weekend Today, MTV, on the National Public Radio shows Studio 360 and Science Friday, on Larry King Live, and on an episode of Bob Garfield’s “Genius Dialogues,” available on Audible.
March 18, 2017
Select Previous Appearances
PopAction Master Class at Antioch College
June 10, 2016
Global Cultural District Network Panel at BAM
May 24, 2016
“How to Become an Extreme Action Heroine” at NYU’s Women’s Leadership Forum
May 13, 2016
Talking Duets #2
Mar 19, 2016
BricFlix: Women Behind the Lens
March 9, 2016
APAP Annual Awards Ceremony & Meet the Artist Salon
January 18, 2015
Molissa Fenley Book Party
November 15, 2015
One Extraordinary Day, a film by Craig Lowy—World Premiere
November 14, 2015
Lois Greenfield: Photographing Dancers in Motion
November 11, 2015
Mountain Film Festival
May 22-25, 2015
March 4, 2015 at 8:15pm
Penny Stamps Speaker Series
February 12, 2015
National Arts Marketing Project Conference
November 9, 2014
DRAMA CLUB: SEAGULLS w/ Public Theatre
October 26, 2014
October 24, 2014
The Municipal Arts Society of New York (MAS Panel guest)
October 23, 2014
John Jay College (lecture)
October 16, 2014
PEN Awards (judge)
September 29, 2014
Born to Fly Q & A’s
June 9, 2016
Virginia Tech Center for the Arts
September 30, 2015
July 5, 2015
September 25, 2014
October 12, 2014
October 18, 2014
Granoff Center at Brown
October 20, 2014
Jacob Burns Film Center
October 28, 2014
Houston Cinema Arts Festival
November 15, 2014
Wexner Center for the Arts
January 23, 2015
Dance on Camera at Lincoln Center
February 1, 2015
Athena Film Festival
February 8, 2015
How to Become an Extreme Action Hero
Elizabeth Streb has been testing the potential of the human body since childhood. Can she fly? Can she run up walls? Can she break through glass? How fast can she go? Combining memoir and theory, Streb conveys how she became an extreme action choreographer, developing a form of movement that’s more NASCAR than modern dance, more boxing than ballet. This book is for those who try or are willing to do just about anything to become a hero in their own way.
Foreword by Anna Deavere Smith
Introduction by Peggy Phelan
Buy a copy at SLAM or feministpress.org
Infinite Body review by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Arts journalist since 1976. Scroll down to read the review.
Grantmakers in the Arts review by John E. McGuirk, the director of the Performing Arts Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Click here to read the review.
Amazon Book Review from Publishers Weekly including “Streb [as] a glorious acrobatic adventure.” The Guardian. Click here to read the review.
Bomb Magazine article from A.M. Homes with an Interview between A.M. Homes and Elizabeth Streb! Click here to read the review.
Born to Fly: ELIZABETH STREB VS. GRAVITY
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 daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility. BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity traces the evolution of Elizabeth Streb’s movement philosophy as she pushes herself and her performers from the ground to the sky. Revealing the passions behind the dancers’ bruises and broken noses, BORN TO FLY offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art, inspiring audiences hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence.