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Born to Fly
Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity takes us on an exhilarating journey with choreographer Elizabeth Streb - pushing the boundaries between action and art and daring us to join Streb and her dancers in pursuit of human flight.
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Born to Fly

Running Time
83 minutes

Born to Fly

Elizabeth Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers. Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility. BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity traces the evolution of Elizabeth Streb’s movement philosophy as she pushes herself and her performers from the ground to the sky. Revealing the passions behind the dancers’ bruises and broken noses, BORN TO FLY offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art, inspiring audiences hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence.

Filmmaker Notes:

BORN TO FLY was sparked at a STREB event when Elizabeth offered me a surprising honor. I got to shimmy 30 feet up a tress and drop a bowling ball into the waiting hands of Zaire Baptiste, emcee extraordinaire. When I scrambled back down, I felt exhilarated, giddy, and eager to celebrate with Zaire. I had tasted the thrill. He gave me a high-five but cautioned, “You hesitated.” In that moment, I learned that an extreme action hero has to practice without fear and with trust and devotion. This flood of emotion inspired BORN TO FLY.

Why is one person’s circus another person’s dance and one dancer’s gorgeous flight another dancer’s stunt work? Why call it art? Why choreograph it? Why have a role in performing it? Why watch it? What will it change? How has the action architect Elizabeth Streb created a plane of thought; a launchpad in a theater; a spectacle of provocation for the mind and the street, for the art world and the sky? What comes of live action, live thought, a live wire being recorded, edited, reconfigured, and represented? How can the film BORN TO FLY – my “art about art” – jumpstart viewers’ lives, take them to the edge? How does my collaboration with Streb inspire a broad audience, hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence in the world?

BORN TO FLY declares the power and necessity of art in practice. The film approaches Streb and her Extreme Action Company with the same curiosity, openness, and questioning that Streb exhibits with regard to physics, risk, power, fear, and beauty. By interpreting Streb’s story, BORN TO FLY dares us all to prioritize the extraordinary in our everyday lives.

The optimism you hear is real. Look and see how powerful, unique, and scary it can be. Everyday I encounter a person or have an experience that demonstrates how much our society needs to be injected with a sense of confidence, agency, and creative intelligence. The world climate of economic and social inequality can too often leave people feeling completely powerless, apathetic, desperate, or lost. By investigating potential limitations imposed by age, gender, and injury (among other things), I’m making this film to incite viewers to challenge the boundaries of their imagination: those we set for ourselves and those that are set for us.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2014
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Festival screenings
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