Gravity is a Dancer's Best Friend, with Elizabeth Streb
The extreme action dance pioneer takes us through the theory behind PopAction and how flying, falling dancers teach audiences about resilience and hope.
Choreographer Elizabeth Streb is a force in the contemporary dance world. She teaches a unique brand of extreme impact movement she calls PopAction at SLAM (the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In today's featured Big Think interview, Streb explains the philosophy behind PopAction and the ways in which dancers should aspire to be more like American football players:
"Gravity is our friend, you know. It’s many people’s, you know, it’s an aberration to them. It’s something that they avoid at all costs. Do not fall down. We [at] STREB really believes that gravity is the most exciting force on earth."
As you can see from the film excerpts in the video above (especially near the 3:20 mark, a lot of what the dancer are doing involves falling down -- sometimes with what looks like huge impact. Streb explains that if you allow your body to land perfectly horizontally after a fall of three feet, the resulting wallop will be exhilarating.
"I think that gravity is where the content of theatrical action resides. I think that that’s where the drama is. It shows the danger. It shows the force of our world. It shows the bravery of the dancers. And I think it’s a metaphor also."
That metaphor is one of perseverance. You have the ability to takes shots and punches, get back up, and keep going. There's something magical about one's ability to maintain a course of action like that.
Dance as an art form speaks through a specialized physical vernacular. When an audience watches a ballerina pirouette or a STREB dancer fly, the message conveyed is one of the physical and emotional potential of the human body. What do you see when you watch Streb's dancers practice their form? How does dance affect you as an art form? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.
- Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
- The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
- The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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