In 2003 STREB established SLAM (the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since then, SLAM has become a creative center, a destination, and an integral part of its Brooklyn neighborhood. Building on the company’s own use of SLAM as a laboratory for artistic experimentation, the company has developed an extensive calendar of programs which bring myriad constituents into the creative conversation. These programs include two annual extended-run home performance seasons, a full schedule of classes and workshops for children and adults in both the POP ACTION School and the España/STREB Trapeze Academy, a summer camp, an Emerging Artist Commissioning Program, KIDS IN CONTROL (a program for at-risk youth in partnership with the Greenpoint YMCA) and TEEN ACTION (an education initiative in collaboration with the El Puente Leadership Center). Even with all this activity, SLAM is still something more. The magnitude and substance of its programs create a unique culture -- company rehearsals, which are always open to the public, happen simultaneously while aerial artists practice overhead, technicians work on equipment, children attend class, family members look on, neighborhood residents stop in.
Workshops investigate the basic physics of movement and constructing choreography from these principles. This process fosters creativity, confidence, critical thinking, and responsibility for their partners. Participants discover the discipline of performance and how much fun moving can be. Dancers demonstrate how the movements they’ve taught the students form the basic building blocks of the STREB vocabulary, “PopAction.” Performances by KidAction participants can be included in the actual STREB performance. Classes can be arranged for groups of students aged 5-18.
STREB has developed Exchange Events individually tailored to specific groups, such as professional artists, athletes, gymnasts, cheerleaders, boy scouts, boxing students and wrestlers, as well as physics students and theater classes. Exchange Events center on physical participation and the exchange of expertise. The classes emphasize building strength, accomplishing wild actions safely, and deepening each participant’s own set of ‘personal best’ physical skills.
STREB offers PopAction classes for dance students and professionals. Developed by Elizabeth Streb over the last 20 years, PopAction classes help dancers acquire new skills by posing unique challenges: change your base of support in a rapid fire way, physically designate specific locations in vertical and horizontal space, learn to pop the muscles to initiate action (rather than skeletally transferring weight), train for impact, learn to fly with low-to-the-ground maneuvers that increase spatial awareness, and incorporate a timing system that is not musical but physical (“felt timing”). The class confronts issues of falling and fear. STREB operates on a ‘personal best’ principle; the method suits all body types, ages, and skill sets.
The aim of this class is to invent a new vocabulary of action. Elizabeth Streb poses questions and constructs problems for choreographers and dance students that relate to the fundamental issues of movement, time, space and body. Streb encourages students to dig their way out of intuitive responses to movement, and force entry into their counterintuitive zone. Some of the questions posed include: walk through the wall, occupy the same space at the same time as someone else, move so fast you disappear, go underground, and go in more than one direction at the same time. This is a two-hour class for 15 or fewer participants.
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