posted by Mel Favara
Flinging their bodies like careful rag dolls, the Streb dancers made use of the stuff of gimmick—bungee cords, hula hoops, and extreme sports attire. But their whimsy, the merriment of their orchestrated play, was the whimsy of Walt Whitman—underlined with an awareness of death and danger, and the skill and spirit of the performance outstripped the props that made it possible.
In one piece, the dancers wandered the stage, seemingly oblivious to the concrete blocks that ponderously swung on cords among them, averting collision by less than seconds, thumping to the ground just ahead of injury. As a viewer, I couldn’t help but think of the surface tension life has that prevents most accidents, but not all, at the last second. Children jumping from the second story window for fun, and to see if they could.
Many of the dances featured falls—pratfalls, slips, swan-dives from catwalks. In the opening, dancers simply lined up and took turns diving to the mat, the ponderous thump of their landings saying this too hurts, and is significant. Some blew kisses as their bodies descended, a graceful generosity in the pantomime of self-annihilation. Goodbye and goodbye again! shouted the bodies of each performer, rising from the stage to contort, touch one another, and climb the scaffolding again toward whatever might next befall them.