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THIRTEEN asked New York City “Makers” what woman has inspired them. Visit www.thirteen.org/makers for more programs on women who have made an impact.

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Elizabeth Streb

Founder, STREB Extreme Action Company
Inspired by Trisha Brown

Trisha Brown’s investigations excavated the ground over which every choreographer, including me, has been searching in, around and through, over the last 40 years. No one in the dance world, in the new languages of the motion-world, has been untouched by her influence. Her brilliance is embedded in her relentless insistence that everything that came before was open to question, to reexamination.

Trisha invented a new way to move on earth with the cliché-ridden human body.

She is the only choreographer who has redeployed the “where” of place and space, the “when” of time, and the “what” and “how” of the motion of the human form. She glanced at space on earth, whose regions were invisible to others, and reconsidered it. Others accepted that they must be in it, space, of course, we all are, however they did not attempt to recalibrate it. Trisha did. Others accepted time as ordinary, space, again, as merely there.

Trisha is concerned about how the body moves, though not by manipulation through the mind or by any force of muscle. Trisha was trying to find the animal self, the true origin of motion on earth, movement’s “holy grail.” Trisha unearthed a solidly, circumnavigating physical geography, she sensed the possibility of uncharted territory. She charted it. Her formulas are still being deciphered by us groundlings. Trisha took me and all my cohorts on a mystical, journey through the tendrils of motion, necessity and flight. In her work is the bedrock on which dance and movement of the 21st and 22nd centuries will rest.

Trisha is a transgressive, elevational, action specialist whose seemingly reckless journey is, in reality, our society’s insignia for bravery and courage. She exists as a constant and eternal reminder of all the moves yet left to do.

She erases gravity, while others exaggerate it, she makes you notice its effect, what exactly is that force that determines her possibilities, let me check, am I where I just was? No, I’m lifting off my seat, I’m floating.

Displays of grace in dance are often tedious for their pedantic insistence on smoothness, Trisha shocks with the impossible transition, she falls up, wait, her dancers are walking on a ‘air-ceiling’ wait, they just went underground, wait, the whole theater just flipped sideways….!!

Some people hum a symphony while wandering down a breezy street, Trisha has left millions recalling her moves as in James Cameron’s movie, “Avatar”…when they spoke about their memories of their recently juxtaposed flight-patterns and showed each other with their hands…and a vocabulary not yet invented…trajectories of space and time and place and force…

Brave heart, deep brain, eyes that see the invisible, magic and alchemic invention. Movement impossible to understand or perceive. The magic, the moment of action.

As she moved the wind created by her effectiveness affected us.

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” William of Occam (1285-1350)

 

See a video and slideshow of Elizabeth Streb’s extraordinary actions at the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad. Learn more about the Trisha Brown Company’s most recent season on NYC-ARTS.

 Elizabeth Streb photo by Mary Ellen Mark.

  • comments (2)
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  • Chris Knight

    Trisha Brown is my favorite artist and Set and Reset and Foray Forêt are my favorite art works. Brown’s collaborator Robert Rauschenberg got to set his collage work in motion in both of these dances, which seem to have complex structures beyond what my mind can comprehend, yet their patterns are executed by human bodies, with joy. Every time these beautiful dances start I’m ridiculously half mourning that they’re going to end.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brendan-McCall/637795652 Brendan McCall

    What a beautiful and eloquent testimonial, Elizabeth. Thank you for taking the time to articulate some of the many reasons why Trisha is such an important trailblazer in dance, art, philosophy, and human perception & consciousness.

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