Elizabeth Streb

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2013

Brooklyn, NY

Elizabeth Streb is known for her unique brand of movement—called “Pop Action”—which intertwines dance, athletics, boxing, rodeo, the circus, stunt-work, and the invention of action gizmos. In 1985, she founded STREB Extreme Action Company to push the limitations of the human body and in 2003, she established S.L.A.M. (STREB Lab for Action Mechanics) in Brooklyn, NY. For the 2012 London Olympic Games, the company was commissioned to create One Extraordinary Day, a series of events across the city that included dancers “bungee dancing” off Millennium Bridge and abseiling down City Hall. In 2016, OXD, a film following these events directed by Craig Lowy, premiered. She is the recipient of numerous honors including a MacArthur Fellowship (1997) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1987). She lectures regularly across the country and her book, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero, was published by Feminist Press in 2010. In 2014, Born To Fly, a documentary directed by Catherine Gund, premiered and is now available on iTunes and Netflix. STREB’s rehearsals at S.L.A.M. are always open to public.

  • Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Mark
  • Elizabeth Streb- Born to Fly (2014) : http://vimeo.com/90688549
    Born to Fly (2014)
  • Elizabeth Streb- TEDxMet (2014): http://vimeo.com/90690635
    TEDxMet (2014)
  • Fall for Dance Festival (2013)
  • Elizabeth Streb- One Extraordinary Day (2012) : http://vimeo.com/58681867
    Video Credit: Lucas Smith
    One Extraordinary Day (2012)
  • Mayor of London Presents "Sky Walk City Hall," One Extraordinary Day (2012)
  • Photo credit: Tom Caravaglia
    STREB: Kiss the Air! (2011)
  • Photo credit: Antoine Douaihy, Tom Caravaglia Studio
    STREB: Kiss the Air! (2011)
  • Photo credit: Julian Andrews
    One Extraordinary Day (2012)

Suppose you just met someone who didn't know your work, what project from the past 10 years would you direct them to as an entry point to you and your work, and why?

One Extraordinary Day—July 15, 2012
OXD was the ultimate manifestation of STREB Extreme Action, writ very large and very small, scattered across the skyline, waterline and ground-line of London along the Thames from Trafalgar Square to City Hall.

“Cities connect geographies, cultures, histories, economies, lives, and futures. They simultaneously enlarge us intellectually and humble us physically. Every day, they illuminate and challenge our sense of space, place, and scale; they are motionless structures that catalyze countless human journeys. The Urban Arenas super-size us and miniaturize us simultaneously. In London, our aim was to design seven STREB Extreme Action Events that would celebrate these urban environments by exploring the air spaces above, below, and beside them, enabling people’s perceptions of physical possibility to be forever altered.”

London was an action poem for STREB. What can the human body do when it is so high up it virtually disappears? What is the relevance of the body when you cannot any longer ‘see’ what it is doing 450 feet above the earth? At this point, you know the significance is not what it is doing, but that it is there, in a place in space heretofore impossible to access.

“We feel a kinship with these amazing Olympic beings, and we salute them as great action heroes. Our pursuits and theirs are mirrors of each other, our goals like theirs are to go further, harder, faster, achieving feats only dreamed of before.”