Across the Page: Elaine Beale, Elizabeth Streb, Anne Laughlin

STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero by Elizabeth Streb (Feminist Press)

Known as the Evel Knievel of dance, Elizabeth Streb "intertwines the disciplines of dance, athletics, rodeo, the circus, and Hollywood stunt-work." In her new memoir, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero, Streb chronicles her life as a dancer, performance artist and choreographer in prose that mirrors the energy and innovation of her work.

STREB opens with an insightful foreword by Anna Deavere Smith that characterizes Streb as a "rascal — a brilliant rascal." Peggy Phelan’s introduction describes Streb’s art as invoking "the dream of flight and the poetry of velocity." But the story really gets going in the first chapter when Streb states, "My adventure in life began with action, and I know it will end with action."

In a fascinating collection of stories and reflections, Streb explores the connection between the body and mind, dance and art, the physical and the intellectual. Divided into six sections — "In the beginning," "The Body," "Space," "Time," "Motion," and "The Real Move"—the book also features dazzling pictures from Streb’s shows.

In her attempt to investigate motion and space, and with references ranging from Kant to Einstein, Streb details how her theories developed and how she was able to apply them to the world of movement. She also captures many of her more famous performances in enthralling detail, including "BlazeAway," a dance created for her partner Laura Flanders and which ended in Streb catching on fire, and "Artificial Gravity," which explores "the perfect radius for the human run."

Streb defines STREB methodology as "inquiring into that which is unquestionably true, unnoticeable, and absurd," which is also another way of describing this unique memoir/manifesto. A very woman, a very cool read.

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