Elizabeth Streb is the founder and Artistic Director of the acclaimed STREB Extreme Action Company (1979) and the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics—an international action factory for experimentation and exchange—in Brooklyn, NY (2003). She has received numerous honors including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, a Doris Duke Artist Award and a USA Fellowship Award. Streb was a featured mainstage speaker at TED2018: The Age of Amazement in Vancouver and the subject of two documentaries: Born to Fly, directed by Catherine Gund (Aubin Pictures), and OXD, directed by Craig Lowy. In 2010, Feminist Press published her book, STREB: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero. In her 40+ years of pursuing human flight and pushing the limits of the impossible, she has dived through glass, allowed a ton of dirt to fall on her head, walked down (the outside of) London’s City Hall, and set herself on fire, among other feats of extreme action.

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Elizabeth Streb was invited to present a TED Talk (‘My Quest To Defy Gravity and Fly’) at TED 2018: THE AGE OF AMAZEMENT as a mainstage speaker. She has been a featured speaker presenting her keynote lectures at such places as the Rubin Museum of Art (in conversation with Dr. John W. Krakauer), TEDxMET, the Institute for Technology and Education (ISTE), POPTECH, the Institute of Contemporary Art (in conversation with physicist, Brian Greene), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (in conversation with author A.M. Homes), the National Performing Arts Convention, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the University of Michigan, Chorus America, the University of Utah, and as a Caroline Werner Gannett Project speaker in Rochester NY, and gave the 2019 Commencement Speech at Otis College for Arts and Design among others.

Streb was profiled by Alec Wilkinson in an extended essay “Rough and Tumble: Elizabeth Streb’s daredevil dances” for the New Yorker magazine in June 2015, was featured in the Smithsonian Magazine (“The New American Circus”), and in 2019 was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Streb received a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2013, and a USA Fellowship in 2020. She holds a Master of Arts in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, a Bachelor of Science in Modern Dance from SUNY Brockport, and honorary doctorates from SUNY Brockport, Rhode Island College and Otis College of Art and Design. Streb has received numerous other awards and fellowships including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987; a Brandeis Creative Arts Award in 1991; two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessie Awards), in 1988 and 1999 for her “sustained investigation of movement;” and over 35 years of on-going support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 2009, Streb was the Danspace Project Honoree. She served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and was a member on the boards of the Jerome Foundation (2012-2021) and the Camargo Foundation (2013-2017).

Major commissions for choreography include: Lincoln Center Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, MOCA, LA Temporary Contemporary, the Whitney Museum of Art, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the Park Avenue Armory, London 2012, the Cultural Olympiad for the Summer Games, CityLab Paris 2018, the opening of Bloomberg’s new headquarters in London, Muse D’Orsay, the re-opening of the Theatre du Chatelet, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Born to Fly aired on PBS on May 11, 2014 and is currently available on iTunes. OXD, directed by Craig Lowy, which follows STREB at the 2012 London Olympics and the two years prior, premiered at the IFC Center in New York City on February 2, 2016. Streb and her company have also been featured in PopAction by Michael Blackwood; on PBS’s In The Life and Great Performances; CBS’s The Late Show with David Letterman, Sunday Morning and This Morning; BBC World News; CNN’s Weekend Today and Larry King Live, Business Insider; MTV; and on the National Public Radio shows Studio 360 and Science Friday, among others.

Catharine Stimpson
is a University Professor at New York University and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was the founding editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Her many other publications include a novel, Class Notes; a reprinted selection of essays, Where the Meanings Are: Feminism and Cultural Spaces; and extensive work on Gertrude Stein. In addition, more than 150 of her monographs, essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in Transatlantic Review, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Critical Inquiry, boundary 2, and other publications. Her extensive public service includes serving as the Chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and past president of the Association of Graduate Schools. She is former chair of the New York State Humanities Council, the Ms. Magazine Board of Scholars, and the National Council for Research on Women, as well as past president of the Modern Language Association. She serves on the boards of other educational and cultural organizations, and is on the board of Scholars at Risk and New York Live Arts. She has been awarded both Fulbright and Rockefeller Humanities Fellowships, as well as grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Photo credits

Human Fountain performed at the Park Avenue Armory, 2011
Photographer: Antoine Douiahy

Breakthru performed by Hope Clark, Elizabeth Streb, Matthew Stromberg
Photographer: Unknown, Photo courtesy of STREB Extreme Action

Ascension performanced at the Park Avenue Armory, 2011
Photographer: Tom Caravaglia

London Eye Drawing, 2012
Drawing by: Elizabeth Streb

Molinette Drawing, 2018
Drawing by: Elizabeth Streb

London City Hall Walk for One Extraordinary Day, Performed at the 2012 London Olympics
Photographer: Danita Geltner

PopAction Class, 2019 Dancer: Nia Joseph-Donnelly
Photographer: Dan Lubbers

SLAM Performance, 2016
Photographer: Josh Flanagan

Trampoline, 2015 Instructor: Cassandre Joseph
Photographer: Dakota Ray Photography

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NYU Skirball’s programs are made possible with support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by Howard Gilman Foundation, Collins Building Services, Consolidated Edison, Harkness Foundation for Dance, DuBose & Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and Marta Heflin Foundation,  as well as our valued donors through memberships, commissioning fund, and Stage Pass Fund support.

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