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STREB combines athletics, technology in performance

Elizabeth Streb, front, leads a master class Thursday afternoon at the Center for Dramatic Art. DTH/Daixi Xu
Elizabeth Streb, front, leads a master class Thursday afternoon at the Center for Dramatic Art. DTH/Daixi Xu

Combining extreme sports, dance and technology, STREB Extreme Action Company’s “BRAVE” promises to be something much different than you’ve ever seen.

STREB will be showcasing its multidimensional work tonight and Saturday in Memorial Hall as part of the Carolina Performing Arts series.

“Expect the unexpected,” said Reed Colver, the director of campus and community engagement.

Elizabeth Streb, once called the “Evel Knievel of dance,” is a self-proclaimed “action artist.” Streb founded the extreme action company in 1985.



Time: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday
Location: Memorial Hall

She describes her choreography as “PopAction,” — a combination of dance, athletics, boxing and other disciplines.

The touring company of STREB tests the limits of the human body, incorporating uncommon objects such as cinder blocks and steel beams into routines.

“I think at the end of the day, Elizabeth is trying to demonstrate the incredible potential of the human body, its ability to be resilient and flexible and to show the potential of humankind that most of us could only dream about,” wrote Emil Kang, the director of Carolina Performing Arts, in an e-mail.

The finished product is “a mixture of slam dancing, exquisite and amazing human flight and a wild action sport,” according to the company’s Web site.

Kang said he has been working to bring STREB to UNC since he saw their show in New York four years ago.

This performance is part of the Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology festival, a project by the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The festival showcases existing collaborations of technology and the humanities and the way technologies are transforming the arts.

STREB’s newest piece, “BRAVE,” fits well with the technology-meets-arts theme of the festival. Streb worked with the media labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to incorporate robotics and technology in the piece.

“Wait till you see the ‘whizzing gizmo,’” Kang wrote in an e-mail.



“BRAVE” not only keeps the performers leaping, spinning and soaring, but the structures around, under and over them will be in motion as well, according to the Web site.

“It shows her work as an artist and how she’s using technology to further her goals as an artist, the goals of somebody who is pushing the limits of human movement,” Colver said of Streb.

While the performance is hard to explain, Colver said a good word to describe STREB is “extreme.”

“Talking about it really does no good,” Kang said. “You just have to see it to understand it.”

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