Born To Fly At Laemmle Noho 7 September 26th
The documentary sets it’s pace by profiling the founder and choreographer of this style of performance, providing the requisite background in an attempt to get the audience to develop an emotional seed of empathy. From there, a handful of dancers in the company provide anecdotes accompanied by a smattering of childhood photos. I can only get the sense whatever drew all these people to be a “Streb dancer” stems from deep-seated issues developed in their formative years of development, but I’m no psychologist of any sort.
During the first act, I was still trying to figure out exactly what kind of dance this was. Having only been described as action events, pop action, or other similarly vague-ish artistic idioms for movement. As far as I could tell it was some sort of industrial warehouse themed cross fit showcase or physics project that used human objects as the wheels and cogs of the mechanism in question. Maybe I didn’t “get it” on first viewing, but it’s difficult for me to call people slamming into walls and falling flat on the floor “dance.” Eventually I realized what I had been told was was dance was actually a hybridization of performance art and circus shows the likes that could only have originated in 1980’s New York.
The most adhesive feeling I left with at the end of the the scene painted for me by filmmaker Catherine Gund was less for Elizabeth herself and more for the performers she seemingly used as bricks to be laid in whatever fashion suited her avant-garde perceptions of movement in “time and space.” Watching the rigors of their lifestyle will either make you feel incredibly unfit and depressed, or motivate you to get off the couch and develop a cardio routine. At it’s worst, it might make you – dare I say it – start juicing things. Ugh.
No matter, what I saw was a no doubt interesting portrait of a decidedly unique group of individuals that most viewers might not otherwise be privy to. Whatever “Born to Fly” leaves you with; I leave to you as the beholder.
Reviewed by Tristan Jordan