Basic Info

Elizabeth Streb
Contributor Status:
Native AdVert
Initial Contribution Date:

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Art, Coaching / Training, Education
Personal Career Headline:
American choreographer, performer, and teacher of contemporary dance

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Career Snapshot:

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 STREB EXTREME ACTION in 1979. 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. In Spring 2018, Streb was invited to present a talk at TED 2018: THE AGE OF AMAZEMENT.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

My Goal of the Day: To continue to be able to wake-up every day and think about movement. I have been doing so since I was 17 and am now seconds away from 69.

My Thought of the Day: I was thinking about our new machine, a wheel, and thinking about the quality of turning and how it represents infinity. It is also confusing to do turning movements or have a set that turns because there is no beginning, middle, or end. It is the most complex formal inquiry that I have ever approached. I have done many turning machines, both laterally and vertically, and it comes back to me what type of inquiry can I invent this time that has never come to me before with this condition of vertical rotation.

My Action of the Day: This is a massive machine which breathes danger and I would love if in the next month or so how we learned how to get in it and out of the wheel without slowing it down.

My Deed of the Day: My deed is to be kind to a stranger that stops me and wants something from me. It’s about being truly kind and not feeling interrupted by the event.

My Tip of the Day: “Do it Different”. And also read something complex, interesting and confusing.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant? Lafayette on Lafayette Street.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – I get up at 6:00am and take a look at my schedule, gather my things, and get ready for the day which takes me about an hour and a half. Then, I leave for the gym.

10:00 AM I am usually having breakfast at Lafayette on Lafayette Street. I then head to SLAM, STREB Lab for Action Mechanics for an 11 or 11:30am arrival time.

Favorite Lunch spot/meal? AKO SUSHI, 2 Eel Avocado Rolls

12:00 PM – Today I had a meeting for a collaborative project I am working on with the SITI Company. I then headed into rehearsal where we are working on a new piece of machinery called “Revolution” which is a retrofit of a former wheel. Today is also the first day of rehearsal for four new company members. Rehearsal ends at 3:30pm and I head into at least one more meeting.

7:00 PM – Today I am heading home, but usually I am either out to a dinner meeting or seeing a show.

11:00 PM –

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)? I need coffee to get through the day and I top it off with a Coca-Cola at lunch. I may end up with ten cups of coffee by the end of the day, but I actually never finish a cup of coffee.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account? I am not that person so I would probabally have to say my CITIBank App.

What should everyone try at least once? Getting both feet off the ground.

Where do you enjoy getting lost? Up in Smallwood, New York. But…I never enjoy getting lost.

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