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Julie Burstein: The dancer and choreographer and she calls herself and action architect, Elizabeth Streb is phenomenal. What she does is push the limits of what human bodies can do.

Her story really illustrates for me what I call cultivating a passionate obstinacy. She is determined to figure out, not how to defy gravity, but how to push the boundaries and dance with gravity. So what she does with her dancers is she’ll have them fall from a platform that is 20 feet in the air straight down onto a series of mats.

One of her most powerful works is incredibly short. Her dancers dive through a pane of glass. That’s it. There is a pane of glass hanging from the ceiling and they dive right through it and as she says, it shatters, little pieces of it may fly into the audience, the dancer may get cut, but it is this incredible experience.

She is so passionate about the work that she does and so single-minded. She says our job is to create an experience that people may not be quite comfortable with, but that move them in a way —and our other job is not to die in front them so she understands her limits. But because of her determination and this passionate obstinacy to not give in to gravity she has created extraordinary works of art.

That kind of tenacity is essential for creating anything new because a lot of times people will say "you’re crazy, that ‘s not going to work." And you need the determination to just say, "Okay I hear you, but I'm going to try it anyway."

More from the Big Idea for Saturday, April 02 2011


Art That Tests the Body's L...

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