"I guess I think death is a very amazing thing. And I think it's the only thing that keeps anyone humble, knowing that you, too, shall meet the same end as every other single person." Elizabeth Streb, creator, choreographer, STREB and SLAM
Elizabeth Streb is a choreographer, a dance, and a teacher. Elizabeth is also an inventor, and innovator, and an action hero. When her STREB Extreme Action troupe came to Skidmore College in Upstate New York, I had the honor of sitting down with Elizabeth to talk about her career, her vision and see her heroes in action. For more than three decades STREB has been touring the world and wowing audiences with Elizabeth's unique design and passion for the projects she creates. She wanted to fly at an early age, like really fly, and understood that to fly you must also come down. So she set out to do just that, and every performance from STREB Extreme Action is testament to what exactly the human body can achieve, how it can exist in the space in front of you, and how it can challenge your perceptions and emotions through movement. We also touch upon how she started SLAM, an artistic laboratory and action factory where all are welcome, located in Brooklyn New York. One of the most inspiring, and interesting conversations, I have had on this program, and I look forward to seeing more from STREB in the future.
Elizabeth Streb: I mean, what is this? This great quote from Isaac Asimov that I found in this book called Failure. I've never heard this quote before, but maybe you have, but it said, "The best word in physics is not eureka, but, 'Hmm, that's funny.'" And it's so beautiful because you notice the way they did in the proton colliders, you know, when they were like the last number of years, and CERN, having these protons travel in the accelerator close to the speed of light, probably not quite. And then they smash and a physicist at Harvard named Lisa Randall said that they look for the odd event that's occurring after those collisions. And that's how they were able to say that the bore- that the Peter Higgs, that the Higgs-
Jeff: Higgs boson.
Elizabeth Streb: Higgs boson existed. They proved that it existed. It's pretty amazing. And the guy is still alive and could learn that. But I feel sort of like that. I look for the odd thing that surprises. You set up an experiment, which these equipments are, and then you see what you hadn't predicted. You might notice when things start to happen. And I think that is just an inquiry system. You collect evidence but you never really come up with an answer, and not really with a period at the end of the sentence. So, my inquiry over the years has constantly shifted, and shifted to new pieces of hardware and equipment, and there is no real end to it and I'm still as obsessed with it. I was really a fail... I was pretty, I didn't have one of those illustrious careers where I was noticed at first because no one really knew what I was doing. So I figured I could have been barking up the wrong tree this whole time until, you know, I did start getting awards and some kind of reputation, but I don't really care about that. It is important to be able to raise money and-
Jeff: Well, of course.
Elizabeth Streb: Pay for this absurd thing. Well--
Elizabeth Streb: But once we decide on a physical manifestation that will allow us to investigate more in space than we've been able to before, and develop some kind of object that will have some capacity for surprise, danger, really being able to take us into foreign territory spatially and temporally and force fields. And I, finally, I thought we had been limited for many years. Finally, I said, "I'm going to do it". And then they built it, we bought it, and we've been developing this since last month. That's sort of been that thing.
Elizabeth Streb: I draw, this is the, this is the drawing, these are the drawings for this, but I worry about my drawing, trying to imagine what's possible. But really, what you just saw us do is how we make our final decisions.
Jeff: Because that was what's so incredible, you actually answered another question that I had is, does this establish, because it seems that you've put a lot of science behind what you're doing.
Elizabeth Streb: In a very Plotinian way.
Jeff: Correct, but I wanted to know when you said you had mastered that if you're actually visualizing this, I'm thinking you are, this is kind of in the moment and that's how you kind of made that. That's very interesting that you had this drawing, had this built, and then kind of are working that space out. Like, I was noticing just now while watching it, one of the directions you gave. And it was cool to see this in real time. Was it, do you hold each other's hand as you go?
Elizabeth Streb: No, and that's been a question for a while. But then I thought, if the [inaudible 00:03:36] unison, it will lead to just, [inaudible 00:03:38] and whatnot. But then it gets better, [inaudible 00:03:44].
Jeff: It was so cool. Because if you post that question, basically you say that to the universe. You're like hey universe, is this possible? And your actual answer was, I don't think so.
Elizabeth Streb: [inaudible 00:03:57] and it's interesting that they say you can't, but really when they stretch your hands out, they're [inaudible 00:04:04]. Really, they won't take [inaudible 00:04:06] this, and then go on with this. Like [inaudible 00:04:10]. It's just amazing that [inaudible 00:04:12]. You have to be humble enough to ask a question that you don't know the answer to. You really don't know the answer to any question you ask. Sometimes you [inaudible 00:04:22].
Jeff: It's so true, especially when you're utilizing it in such a dimensional way, you know? You're not just [inaudible 00:04:28]. Like this, you were up in the air and rotating in [inaudible 00:04:34]. And then, that's what's so interesting about it. And the other thing, I just waited for this, and it's something that you talk about a lot, is the emotion that you're both feeling. Just watching that, you know, because in my mind, that was cranked up, watching them up so high, and already [inaudible 00:04:52]. You know, and as they're creating some of these motions as they move up there, [inaudible 00:05:09] or stuff like that. I'm feeling, I'm literally feeling how they are enacting it, and it's really...
Elizabeth Streb: Yeah, thank you, and you know, it's like you just don't know. And you could spend forty thousand dollars and go uh-oh. [inaudible 00:05:16] I will say, I've got to do something, I better hurry up. I think that humility of the invention of action on this is really interesting, and you don't really get sucked into it until you just... It increases your capacity to understand that you know nothing about forces once you're dealing with your force. And the right side up on your rotation is an advanced move. But on the [inaudible 00:05:41] actually dance program [inaudible 00:05:44].
Elizabeth Streb: And they haven't been to say hey, hi, welcome Elizabeth, I'm so happy you're here. And the initial thing was, you're going to, it's dangerous, it's not just dangerous. So here's my [inaudible 00:06:00]. But you can't just be in one position. It would be like having only one [inaudible 00:06:07]. It would be like having no, what are they doing, mathematics where you basically invent a new number system. Like the, what do you call those, the I, the square root of I. Imaginary numbers. And it doesn't work for everything, but it solves some problems [inaudible 00:06:23]. And according to the numerary system. To answer the question, it became even more [inaudible 00:06:30].
Elizabeth Streb: To get exactly what application imaginary numbers have, [inaudible 00:06:37], and you can't decide whether [inaudible 00:06:42]. You cannot [inaudible 00:06:46]. If everyone [inaudible 00:06:49] either. Dancing is something you want to do. Watching it, as I think I [inaudible 00:06:53], because they are [inaudible 00:06:56] the tendency. Which are time, action time, [inaudible 00:07:02], space, underground, and air. It becomes multi-directional, you can't understand where you are. And also [inaudible 00:07:09]. And so my argument is just that, that music is the true enemy of dance, that you really have to feel, not meaning landing on the equation. You know, like the whole idea that, okay, you should be graceful, let's do all these techniques so we can [inaudible 00:07:26] and we return to our feet and we are not going to, it's going to smooth in transition, it's going to be smooth in grace and is this [inaudible 00:07:37] in space. And it's just absolutely our truth. And I'm going to tell you, I'm sure of it.
Elizabeth Streb: And sometimes I'll say to them, in fifty years we will both be dead. I'm probably not the first person to say that. And you realize that I'm [inaudible 00:07:52]. I like to say that because I'm just trying to provoke them into some kind of new set of decisions that the [inaudible 00:07:59] do anything on stage. And to be able to surprise them. Not anyone. And I know that's true.
Jeff: In the beginning, like you said, it must've been very hard to explain to people that you existed, that Streb, this idea existed. But reputation must help that out a little bit. Right? Like to create awareness of what you are creating.
Elizabeth Streb: It tells a little, but it doesn't change my curiosity. It doesn't shift my rudder that much and I don't rely on my reputation because you know, you really, it comes and it and goes, you know, it comes and it goes. And I was, the way I supported this was I was, I got a loft in Soho in the 70s. It was raw. I was cooking in restaurants for cash because I wouldn't pay my student loan back, which was, it was SUNY Brockport. It was only $4,000 but I wasn't going to, I had to--
Jeff: I always stay ahead.
Elizabeth Streb: Yep. You have to be an artist and you can't deal with what you're supposed to be doing.
Elizabeth Streb: So I went underground till I was really 42 so, got my first paycheck from my company. Anyway, I say that because I felt that my inquiry was very vivid and pure. I had no compromising, I didn't have people to disappoint or impress. They weren't people who loved your first piece and wanted you to continue to make that first piece for the rest of your life. So because I was unsuccessful for so long, my inquiry got very established as my set of questions. You know, no matter what. You know.
Jeff: It becomes inspiring though, because at the core of it, you know what you want to create, you know what you want to put into this world, and be damned anyone else. And you're going to do that, and you've done that your entire career, and it's, you know, brought you to the ends of the earth to do these types of things, which is incredible.
Jeff: One thing that I wanted to bring up that was so striking, being able to see this, and I saw this as it happened. And I wanted you to, I know you've talked about this before, but in 2012 when you got to be part of the London Olympics, and you're literally on the side of a building. Like, do, in a moment like that, does the focus of what you are creating and what you're doing, does it allow you a moment to look around and go, I'm on the side of a building in London right now? Do you get to be in that moment or is the focus and the drive just kind of taking over and you're just kind of part of it?
Elizabeth Streb: Yeah. More the latter, I would say, because one, it's pretty terrifying and I figured I was worried cause I won't take off my boots. You know, my Fluevog boots and John Fluevog made me a gold pair of boots. They're the ones that come up, I have this and that pair, quite a few pairs of the ones that come up to your knees. So I knew it was a glass building and you couldn't get on it beforehand. And so I thought wow, I can really can't slip, man. And so it was, and you couldn't get on it beforehand. And I was at the top of the buil-- So the answer to that question is no, I'm terrified for my dancers. We got on the spokes of the London Eye and we jumped off the Millennium Bridge. You know, there were just so many unknowns because we weren't able to, we developed a, what do you call it, we retrofitted what it would be like physically in the studio or in Gallions Reach in London and rehearsed for a month.
Elizabeth Streb: But it was not getting on those things and worrying about my dancers. I don't worry about myself that much. I just figure,, well if I fell off the building, you know, it would probably go pretty fast.
Elizabeth Streb: And it's nothing to write home about or cry about. No, I'm very much in the present, we're the present tense company on every level. It really isn't about, you don't regret the past or hope for the future. You're just where you are to really execute properly.
Jeff: Wow. And just cause you brought it up, I got to know. So where does the boots stem from? Where, like, how...
Elizabeth Streb: The boots?
Jeff: Yeah. You said [crosstalk 00:12:01]
Elizabeth Streb: Those are the boots I walk on. These boots are made for walking. I've worn them for decades, probably. They were my, I have a look that repre-- you know, represents my me, personality, and...
Jeff: The boots have just always been a part of that.
Elizabeth Streb: Yeah. They really always have been. I'VE never ever bought a pair of sneakers or jeans, even though I guess I grew up during the hippie era, I was never a hippy. I'm here to tell you, man, I was never. So yeah, the boots, the boots, you have to wear boots.
Jeff: You got to.
Elizabeth Streb: You got to wear boots.
Jeff: That's awesome. That's really awesome. So on the other side of this, not only with the, all the incredible installations and performances that Streb does, you've also, in 2003 you started SLAM, which is in Brooklyn, which is basically your space that you do a lot of what I saw today. You know, you're working stuff out, but you also, which I think is amazing and also inspiring, you, it basically says it's open all the time to everybody why? How come?
Elizabeth Streb: Why is it a public space, you mean?
Elizabeth Streb: People can come walk in, you know, the stranger and the woebegone. Yeah. Well, you know, I had my studio in Soho from '77, yeah, '77 to '95, but we were in court fifteen of those years or so. Love court, you know, fighting. But I had that space. I figured, well I have it tomorrow probably, and didn't worry about the future. That was on the third floor of Canal Street in New York. And so people did, were invited in, but they didn't really come in. We worked with kids then, even then. You know, from the late eighties till now. And then I went into a whole bunch of garages in Williamsburg, like including St Anne's and then Bed-Stuy. I just rented these 14 foot garages and they were on the street. So people started coming in and some of them were street walkers, you know, and some of them were just passersby and it's, the door was open and they walked in.
Elizabeth Streb: When I got slam, I got, it was funded by the city of New York and certainly the origin of the money was from taxpayers money. And I ended up being able to buy it because of that. And I thought, my first question in 2003 was, what do I have here that I made for all these years that has any relevance to those people who are walking by? And I just thought I wanted to fray away at the ivory tower operation habit and start to demythologize operations. Like, we have to all be in here together. Just the choreographer and the dancers in it. Actually, they were all white when we went in there, my dancers. And they also really didn't like it when I stood up from rehearsing and walked over to a stranger who wandered in and started chatting with them. And they actually yelled at me, you know, and this was before I figured as a female director, how to tell young men they can't yell at me.
Elizabeth Streb: I mean, I said, you may not yell at me, but they did. You know? So finally I went, oh, you fired. That started changing things around, but it was as a female director, it took a while, one, to do that and noticing how upset the art world essentially represented by my company was when I wasn't staring at them the whole time. And so this is a longer answer than possibly you expected or requested, but I felt that that was one, it was never the women that got upset, but they could have been because they were used to my full-on attention. And I don't want to, I saw the dance, I made the dance, we made it together sometimes, like depending on what movements we have to do, but I'm not interested in being your mother. I had never had kids. I never wanted them.
Elizabeth Streb: I have plenty of kids and kids action and so I just decided to, you know, the company changed and then it got... And my girlfriend Laura Flanders is a journalist, she has the Laura Flanders Show and she had a show on Air America and she's, WBAI radio, kind of has been, you know, fairness and accuracy in reporting. And she really greatly influenced me when I got slammed about the public and about what it means to bring in outside thinkers and it really has completely changed the way we work and everyone in the company now, you know, teaches the 600 kids we have in their after school program. And it just started to morph into a more egalitarian and also a more inclusive space and people now come in from all over the world and they, they see Born to Fly. That's a movie that was made by Catherine Gund and it's on Amazon Prime. It was on Netflix, I don't think it is anymore.
Elizabeth Streb: But anyway it, it we inter... You know, it's just a fabulous thing and people change the architecture of your thinking when they ask questions that you don't expect. Whereas when you're unknown and unsuccessful, people hammer at you all the time and that goes away, the kind of interruption and stranger thing that is there when you're a young unsuccessful artist goes away when you become more established. And so it's really a version. Long story short, it's a version of bringing that interruption and strangers back in the equation to jostle your brain a little bit.
Jeff: I think it's so needed in today's society is a space like that. Because again, as someone who is seeing what you do and what Streb does on the outside, you know, my initial thought is, I could never do that. You know, like, oh, I could, I--
Elizabeth Streb: Really? Yes, you could. Get those boots over there, man. Let's go.
Jeff: Okay, here we go.
Elizabeth Streb: You're going up.
Jeff: But to be able to have the ability in a space that says, well, why not, why not try, you know, come on in and give it a shot. But then immediately that all melts away from me. And then I feel.
Elizabeth Streb: Interesting.
Jeff: I feel like I'm included. I feel like it's not, you know, oh, I need to go to 10 years of school and I need to be ambidextrous and way more flexible than I'll ever be in my life and all this stuff, you know, like it's unattainable. It's totally obtainable. I can literally go to Brooklyn and walk into SLAM and just.
Elizabeth Streb: Fly.
Jeff: Be a part of it and just fly. And I think that is a larger conversation on our society that that needs to be there. And I think that's really important. And it's really awesome that's there. You were talking about the kids that are part of it too. And I wanted to talk a little bit on that because you are not only all-inclusive, you're all-inclusive to all ages, you know, like anybody who wants to come in there and fly can. Is it a different curriculum towards an adult as towards a child?
Elizabeth Streb: Slightly, you know, but it's also, it's about personal best. Anybody. You know, there's actually, surprisingly, a number of people on the spectrum. Kids, you know, the parents, like, go oh my gosh, it's, we don't have a program for that. It's just action really assists, not assists, but really everybody is an action specialist, you know, so that, they're comfortable there. And I think that the curriculum is different for the one and a half year olds than it is for my dancers. But it's the principles of pop action are taught right from the get go. And my, I don't teach it. I'm not a teacher, I'm a, I like to think of myself as an inventor. I'm obsessed with hardware. What else do I do? I specialize in designing machines with a lot of tech, you know, I call them, you know, tech junkies, kind of. I'm like that. And I draw and do this and I raise money. Those are my jobs. I don't teach. However, all my dancers do. And they're interested in teaching and in being generous to the people who walk in and they understand.
Elizabeth Streb: And Casandra Joseph, my associate artistic director, develops a pedagogy and the curriculum there. So kids have stayed there from age five and six all the way now to teenage years are in the kid's company. Those kids Maverick. And it's a whole full-blown program where those kids invent movement and they invent machines.
Elizabeth Streb: And they invent the actual choreography with Casandra's help. And the notion is this is just an inquiry system. Streb Extreme Action. It's a way of asking questions about time-space body forces and anyone can do it. And I, my suspicion is that many of them would turn out to make things as interesting as some of the things I've made. It's not just a single artist thing, you know?
Jeff: Is there a look at, like, with the curriculums at SLAM, is there a look at someone being able to learn everything they can learn and then become part of Streb? Is that the end goal, or?
Elizabeth Streb: Not really, and so far we've had a couple audition, you know who have been in the whole program of Kids Action. But not really. I feel that it does all of these things to your self esteem. You know, it whittles away that outside thing about what you need to have esteem and who breaks it down in the education system, but also just the idea that you can fly and you can land and you can do anything you want to do. And your thoughts about movement are as critical as mine or any other individuals, if they are curious and can overcome their fear of falling.
Jeff: Wow. That's incredible. It really is.
Elizabeth Streb: It's more inspiring than having most dance schools that elevate you to the company and so on. It's still, you're performing. My big tragedy is, oh, I woke up, you know, I'm 69, I woke up like, oh my God, I'm going to be performing for the elite for the rest of my life.
Elizabeth Streb: So all I want for whatever time I have left is to keep inventing. Just cause I'm, what is the word? Something. I'm looking for my Berry Gordy, you know, I'm looking for someone to like, take me out of this art world and go to the real world and go to NASCAR. I want to be the next monster truck or be the next world wrestling. That's what I want.
Jeff: Wow, wow.
Elizabeth Streb: Yeah. That's what I want. Wow. Look out world, man.
Elizabeth Streb: Streb extreme action. And some people will say, well extreme action isn't like wrestling. Everyone knows wrestling. It's not like soccer. Everyone knows soccer. I don't know. But they should know extreme action cause everyone can do it and look out world. And we do it in an extreme way. But it could be something that could make trillions of dollars. It's not that I want trillions of dollars, I just want to take it out of this sector and into another sector.
Jeff: That's incredible. And I think that there's a ton of potential for that as well.
Elizabeth Streb: Don't you think?
Jeff: Of course. And that kind of actually harkens to the theme of this actual show Fueled by Death cast is all about, we are all fueled by death. We are all, we want to leave this world a little different before we notably leave it for good. And so I always come to the question of, through everything that you've done and continue to do, what fuels your passion to keep creating, keep inventing and keep doing this?
Elizabeth Streb: You know, just really, interest. I follow my interest and my obsessions. I did right from the very beginning. I wasn't dissuaded about its practicality in the real world. And I'm able to notice what I'm curious about. And sometimes I'll think, oh, what should I, what should I make next? And I have no, I have a blank page. But the beauty is the blank page forces you to figure out what to put on that blank page. And I'm not a sentimental person, you know, I don't care if my name is remembered or any of that. People are now, because of my age... Also, a lot of the foundations are going archives, archives, archives. What are you going to do with it? What do you want to leave behind? I go, I'm not spending my time with archives cause it's a sinkhole. It's very time-consuming and expensive. I'm not doing that.
Elizabeth Streb: However, I want, I have an idea for my death. I have an idea for my death that I would, and I've professed it in several circumstances, but that I want to be so used up that I just burst into dust at the end of my moments.
Elizabeth Streb: And then it would happened so suddenly that I probably wouldn't even notice it. Of course, I could do the horrible thing and get really sick and have to hang around and all that. But I think that my, the death thing is clear, that the days that are left are fewer than the days that I've enjoyed. And I'm aware of that. And I think of it like that. What, how ought I spend my life? However long I have left, kind of the Mary Oliver. Tell me, what is it you want to do with your one wild and crazy life? And you better do it and get everything you don't want to do out of the way.
Elizabeth Streb: So I'm a little more adamant about, no, no, no. And I leave the things, I don't have the privilege of not, you know, raising money with my whole team. I have a whole team. It's not just me. I'd rather not ask people for money, but if I go to market, then they'll be asking me for money.
Elizabeth Streb: I'd like that. But I guess I think death is a very amazing thing. And I think it's the only thing that keeps anyone humble, knowing that you, too, shall meet the same end as every other single person.
Jeff: It's inevitable.
Elizabeth Streb: It's inevitable. And I find that very inspiring.
Jeff: Yeah, no, it really, and it's inspiring when you think about it in your context is like, you know, why would I not live every day of my life the way I'm going to live it? You know, like, because there is that inevitable finish line, I'm going to make it there at some point. Why not use myself up to the fullest? And I think that's inspiring.
Elizabeth Streb: But the thing, is you get into habits, right?
Elizabeth Streb: Especially I have people that depend on me and this and that, and I want to read a difficult book all the way through. And I haven't, I have, I mean. That's how I want to spend some of my time continuing to learn, meaning continuing to learn. And I want to, well, my girlfriend says I should meditate. She doesn't request it. No, she doesn't suggest it. She now requests that I go. I know it'd be good for me, but I just can't sit here. I'm trying, I'm trying.
Jeff: I get it.
Elizabeth Streb: And then I think, I mean your question is so deep obviously, but I think that you have to have the bravery to learn how to say no to a whole bunch of things I have a hard time saying no to, but I'd rather. And then you have the time to do what you really must do before the end comes. And that's a discipline I'm trying to gain. To say no, it's very hard.
Jeff: Yeah. And that kind of brings me to another thing I've learned about Streb, and something that you've said in past interviews is that you believe that risk is important. You put risk into everything you create, everything you invent, and everything that you are trying to put out into this world. Is risk, does it ever become a hang-up or does it fuel what you are creating?
Elizabeth Streb: You are so beautifully prepared, I have to say. Thank you. This is probably the best interview maybe I've ever had.
Jeff: Thank you very much.
Elizabeth Streb: Beautifully prepared. And he doesn't even have any notes, like here's the next question. Yeah, really beautiful, beautiful mind.
Jeff: Thank you.
Elizabeth Streb: Risk is, I think if there isn't potential tragedy built into something, like things could go wrong. I do think that it would be like Shakespeare never writing a tragedy. Like it has to be part of the drama of action and how can I create the temporal schemata that would, that is the subject of what we do. It is the rhythm of the action. And so without that end point, that point of which... I mean when I'm watching that, I'm thinking will it break?
Elizabeth Streb: This is a prototype and, you know, we have had one bad accident here, but not all the horrible accidents I've ever had that I've watched, which I think now I have PTSD because I've seen in 40 years things you don't want to see.
Elizabeth Streb: And here there was this, you can't, if one of your, if you start to go on the bias, you're headfirst, and you're going to hit that, one of those pipes. And that's headfirst and there's nothing you can do about it. And I think that, you know, where you think, oh, this is a pretty benign machine. You're just going straight and swinging. But it's not, I've been, no machine is benign because all of a sudden this weird thing could happen. And so I think when I asked them to do certain moves, I worry, should I not ask that question? That sort of is how the fear of risk or death figures into my questions.
Elizabeth Streb: And I think most dance, people in movement, not certain sports. Certainly, let's say dance, are so worried about their wellbeing. And especially, it's like the blonde, kind of handsome, rich guy who is never going into boxing.
Elizabeth Streb: Like why? I mean, as a phenomenon. There's not one, it's not one. What fools they are, they can't get hit, they can't get hurt. But many, many action people in dance are way back from the line at which they might get hurt. And so we try and move up to that line and then we peer over it and go, but really and truly, you're this far still from where you would die. And then you could say well, I want to get as close to the moment where we're risking our lives but not dying. Cause that's my job, not to die.
Elizabeth Streb: Not to have it, my questions make someone else die. But I try to get as close, my nose up to that window as much as I can. And I think that without that danger and that potential harm and that risk, a person from, this is really about class, you know, how willing are you to let yourself get scarred up. You know, get that close to the window of no return. And that's part of what action has to be about. And so we flirt with that veneer of safety and try and go out over it and develop the skill to survive those zones as much as we can. But that's where the theater and the tragedy occurs, and you're doing this artificial thing to mostly a bunch of rich people. So you got to scare them a little, you know, you got to like, make them guess. I'm trying to hold their attention and that's also another part of it. But I, yeah.
Jeff: Right. Oh that's so excellent. Finally, I got to ask, for someone who might not have the access to get to Brooklyn to go to SLAM, or to be able to experience what you do firsthand but wants to get into extreme action, get into something like Streb, what would be your advice for them? To go to dance school to, to jump out a window? What would you say to them?
Elizabeth Streb: No, don't do that. I don't have to say that. Don't jump out a window.
Jeff: What would be your advice to go down this path?
Elizabeth Streb: I don't know. I mean I think dance is, trains you to be careful, you know, and I think you do need that. I studied dance from the age of 17, which was supposedly late, wasn't for me. I was an action specialist. I got motorcycles at 15 and I did downhill skiing when a working class kid couldn't in the fifties. And I got, I learned a lot about velocity and impact from those two sports. And I think that sports are great to learn, kind of, how to flirt with that zone, that is no return zone. I guess dance is really important to train your muscles on the right spot in your skeleton.
Elizabeth Streb: So I think the discipline is absolutely necessary, like a daily discipline of some kind of technique, and if it stamps, no big deal. But I don't think dance will provide you with that sort of capacity to invent hasn't been here before.
Jeff: Wow, that's, it's so inspiring talking with you. I know the best way to follow what Streb is up to is on the website.
Elizabeth Streb: More or less, yeah.
Jeff: And you guys are awesome. You guys are, been here as a residence at the Tang Museum, and you are just finishing that up. What's next for this year? Anything big that you can plug or talk about?
Elizabeth Streb: Yeah, I think that we're going back into New York and so I could invite anyone who gets a bus ride down to New York, to Williamsburg, to SLAM at 51 North First Street. Just come in any time. We're going to rehearse two weeks in July.
Elizabeth Streb: And then a bunch of our sets go to Paris and a few sets go to Abu Dhabi and we'll be performing in the middle of September at the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris in a piece called Perrod. And then in Abu Dhabi, on the 17th and 18th of September we'll be performing at the Louvre Museum there. That brand new amazing thing in Abu Dhabi. And then in New Jersey, September 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, we are performing at the Kasser, the Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair, New Jersey. And so, come on out there.
Elizabeth Streb: And we're working with the gunk machine, which we'll be rehearsing tonight from seven to ten and it's, I've invented a gorgeous contraption with 48 pails of stuff in them, liquid and solid. And it's based on a dream I've had of theatricalizing how things fall. So there's molasses and milk, oh, no, no, they made me cut milk cause it gets sour. Molasses and sugar and perlite and sand and paint balls and water and sprinkles. And flour. Did I say flour? Anyway? There's 48 substances, some are doubled and they have 48 strings holding down. And we're working with Ann Bogard in the city company and there's six of them and six of us. And the script, the play is by Charles Mee, playwright.
Elizabeth Streb: And it is crazy. Everyone gets completely gunked up by the end. And it's the happiest, it's so beautiful. It's like a symphony. It is a symphony of falling stuff that, you know, and then it coagulates on the ground and everybody, it's chaos.
Jeff: That sounds so amazing.
Elizabeth Streb: That's what everybody wants to do. Right? Get gunked up.
Jeff: That's so amazing. Honestly, hearing your story is so inspiring because you are someone who, you know, created their own path, but also wanted to just put what they know to be their truth out into the world. And you do that every day. And that is a very inspiring thing. And the other thing that I've taken away from you and from Streb is that, this idea of invoking emotion through who we are and what we can achieve is so needed in the world. And I can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk to me.
Elizabeth Streb: It's such a pleasure. Thank you very, very much.