MacArthur Foundation Genius Award-Winner Elizabeth Streb Premieres BRAVE


Daredevil Hollywood stunts, slam-dancing  and the heart-pumping thrills of a demolition derby are landmarks of STREB’s full-length Brave which makes its Philadelphia premiere February 4-6, 2010 on the Dance Celebration Series, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Under the direction of Elizabeth Streb (MacArthur “Genius Award” winner, Founder/Choreographer and Action Architect), Brave is a series of ten action events performed by eight Olympian conditioned dancers she calls “actioneers.”  This extremely physical and highly-theatrical event features dancers soaring from rafters, ducking, diving, grunting, crashing and yelling through swinging cinderblocks and fearlessly hurling themselves off a rotating structure kept in perpetual motion. Streb is referred to as the Evil Knieval of dance. Her stellar collaborators include David Van Tieghem (composer/sound designer), Noe & Ivan Espana (circus performers and inventor of Whizzing Gitzmo Design), Aaron Henderson (projection designer), Laura Flanders (librettist) and Zaire Baptiste (VJ/DJ). Time Out (New York) notes STREB’s work is “as devastatingly beautiful as it is violent.”

Under the artistic direction of Randy Swartz, Dance Celebration presented by Dance Affiliates and Penn Presents, maintains the tradition of bringing to Philadelphia the world’s best contemporary touring dance companies.  This season’s The Magic of Movement pays tribute to American dance and showcases its diversity of styles: tap, Broadway, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, multimedia, and dance theater.

Performances will take place on Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 pm; Friday February 5 at 8:00 pm; and Saturday, February 6 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Ticket prices are $48, $42, $38, $28 (evening) and $42, $36, $32, $24 (matinee). Tickets may be purchased by calling the Annenberg Center Box Office at 215-898-3900 or by visiting

Events such as “Walk Run Turn,” “Crash and Slide,” “Falling,” and “Artificial Gravity” demonstrate Streb’s movement investigation that challenges gravity and pushes the boundary for “pure movement.” Streb states, “My dancers and I see the rehearsal as a laboratory for testing scientific principles on the body. We invent action ideas which we think are archetypal, noticeable, and understandable.”  In Squirm, as eight dancers are compressed in a constructed set like sardines in a can, one dancer manages to escape head first through a slit. “Super Position,” the program closer, features the Espana’s Whizzling Gizmo, an amusement park wheel-shaped, towerlike structure with dancers inside, precariously balanced on top, and inside and around the edges. Brave is an exploration of circular motion.  In “Artificial Gravity, the dancers work with two circular devices going in opposite directions on a rotating stage. Video projections show a view of the dancers from above adding another perspective.  Throughout, the courageous actioneers (one of whom is Philadelphian Samantha Jakus) shout instructions such as “in-out,” and/ or code phrases such as “vanilla shake” and tuna melt.”

Originally called STREB/Ringside, the company was founded in 1985. Its high impact and high velocity performance pieces became popular with the experimental dance and cutting-edge of entertainment audiences. In 2003, Streb founded S.L.A.M. (STREB Lab for Action Mechanics) in Brooklyn, NY which is open to the public. She refers to her own choreography as “Pop Action” a fusion of dance, athletics, boxing, the circus and Hollywood stunt work based on daring and split second precision.  Streb notes,      “I question the rate, speed and all the invisible forces that cause movement to happen. Action is the message.”

In addition to performances, STREB will offer outreach activities including a master class as part of The Artist to Artist Series and a special school performances for The Student Discovery Series.  For more information call        215-636-9000 ext.110 or visit

This tour of STREB is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program.

This presentation of STREB was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces Dance Initiative, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts.