Born to Fly

Born to Fly

Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity

  • BY Catherine Gund | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered May 11, 2015

About the Film

As a choreographer of dance and performance art, Elizabeth Streb has consistently pushed the boundaries of her craft. Her work openly questions why dance can’t be explosive, action oriented, and extreme, yet just as captivating as ballet. Over the years she has worked to create a unique performance company that melds the physical with the sublime, and her troupe’s fearless performances in both public and private spaces challenge the notion of what the body can do.

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity is the story of the groundbreaking choreographer sometimes called “the Evel Knievel of dance.” In over 30 years of practice, she has pioneered a movement form called “POPACTION,” which is couched in the exploration of human potential – both physical and emotional. MORE

As seen in the film, Streb’s dancers become part acrobat, part gymnast, and part extreme thrill seeker as they walk on walls, dive through glass, and move so fast they seem to disappear and fly. Born to Fly culminates with Streb and her dancers preparing and presenting gravity-defying performances in London’s Cultural Olympiad leading up to the 2012 Olympics.


The Filmmaker

Cathering Gund, Director/Producer

Headshot of Born to Fly filmmaker Catherine Gund.Catherine Gund is an Emmy-nominated producer, director, writer, and organizer. Her media work focuses on arts and culture, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, the environment, and other social justice issues. Her films have screened around the world in festivals, theaters, museums, and schools; on PBS, Discovery’s Planet Green, and the Sundance Channel. Before Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, Gund directed What’s on Your Plate?, a critically-acclaimed multimedia project about kids and food politics, featuring a documentary, book, and standards-based curriculum.

Gund’s previous works include Motherland Afghanistan (PBS broadcast); A Touch of Greatness (Best Documentary Award: Hamptons Film Festival, Ohio Film Festival, and Denver International Film Festival; PBS broadcast; Emmy nomination); and Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance. In 1996, she co-founded the Third Wave Foundation, which targets grants and programs to young women between 15 and 30, as well as Aubin Pictures, a non-profit media production company, which promotes cultural and social awareness and change. Gund lives with her four children in New York City. LESS

Film Credits

A Film by
Catherine Gund

Produced by
Catherine Gund and Tanya Selvaratnam

Fabio Tavares – Associate Artistic Director
Sarah Callan
Jaclyn Carlson
Leonardo Giron
Felix Hess
Samantha Jakus
Cassandre Joseph
John Kasten
Daniel Rysak

Alex Meillier

Associate Producer
Jessica Ruffin

Additional Editing
Adriane Giebel

Kirsten Johnson
Albert Maysles
Ian McAlpin

Music by
Adam Crystal

Sound Recordists
Luciano Dias
Russell Edwards
Judy Karp
Anthony Paul Parsons
Kaitlin Prest
David Pruger
Donny Tam
Josh Tucker
Franklin Vaughan
Leah Zipkin

Additional Camera
Nick Canfield
Esy Casey
John Foster
Matt Porwoll
Stephanie Rabins
Trent Watts

Assistant Editor
Colin Nusbaum

Geraldo Mercado

Production Consultant
Robert Hawk

Production Assistants
Liberty Smith
Catherine Wagler

Line Producers – London
Nik Weston
Sophie Windsor Clive

Post Production Associate
Sierra Pettengill

Equipment Rental
Production Junction

Transcription Services
A Better Type Transcription
Caroline Park

Archive Digitization
Dijifi LLC

Motion Graphics and Title Design
Alex Meillier

Audio Post Facility
Dig It Audio, Inc.

Post Production Services
Final Frame

Legal Counsel
W. Wilder Knight II
F. Robert Stein

Archival Videographers
Character Generators Video
Video D Studios Inc.
Kazuhiro Soda

Music Supervision
Adam Crystal
Jackie Collins

Stills and Stock Footage Courtesy of and Copyright
Gretchen Bender
Otto M. Berk
Tom Caravaglia
The Corvino Archives
Crane TV
EJ Camp Photography
Danita Geltner
Ersin Gencturk
Lois Greenfield
Robert Kilman
New York University Archives
David Papas
Erik Pearson
Peter Reitzfeld Photography
Daniel Rysak
Joy Silverman
Jeff Sugg
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Tony Whitfield
Whitney Museum of American Art
Thomas Woodruff for the Scott Heiser Estate

STREB “One Extraordinary Day”
Produced by the Mayor of London for the London 2012 Festival
Staged by LIFT
Filmed on Location in London, England

Choreography © Elizabeth Streb. All rights reserved.
STREB materials © Streb, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Music and Sound Design for STREB FORCES”
Composed by David Van Tieghem
© 2013 David Van Tieghem.

"Whale Rider"
Composed, performed, and produced by timo ellis.
© 2014 70% Water Music, BMI.

Performed by Cibo Matto
Composed by Miho Hatori (BMI) and Yuka Honda (Luminescent Invertebrate Music / BMG Rights Management  (BMI)
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

“Space Object”
Music by Gretchen Langheld
Performed by Gretchen Langheld
© 1983 Gretchen Langheld.

Words and music by Maxim Safioulline
Performed by Maxim Safioulline
© 2007 Maxim Safioulline

“Too High”
Written by Bateman, Hannam, Lynham, Taylor
Performed by Gramme
Published by Touch Tones Music Ltd.
Courtesy of Tummy Touch Records LLC

Special Thanks
Sabina Balvin
Jamie Bennett
Herbert Berger Dipl.Obt.
Iyabo Boyd
Justin Burton
Sally Cowling
Michelle Coffey
Pat Cruz
Nancy Dalva
Abigail Disney
Sarah Donnelly
Rena Fogel
Jackie Glover
Tenzin Gund-Morrow
Aaron Henderson
Kofi Hope-Gund
Rio Hope-Gund
Sadie Rain Hope-Gund
Jonathan G. Horowitz
New York Sports Club
Mary Jeys
Lesli Klainberg
Pat Lazak
Tim “Love” Lee
Sonia Lopez
Mary Manhardt
Tanya Ager Meillier
The Merce Cunningham Trust
Paul D. Miller Aka DJ Spooky
Alyce Myatt
Lisa Randall
Amy Richards
Rajendra Roy
Greg Sax
Amy Scholder
Daniel Singer
Drew Stevens
STREB Lab For Action Mechanics
Derek Tighe
Cary Webb
Sara Weeks
Sacha Yanow

Dedicated to George Gund III

Production Assistance Provided by

Funding Provided by
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
Agnes Gund
Amy Nauiokas
The Susan Stein Shiva Foundation
George Gund III
Sarah Peter
Geoffrey Gund
Henry Van Ameringen Foundation
Lambent Foundation
Graham Gund
Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation
Adam Ford
Durga Entertainment LLC
Muna El Fituri
Theo Gund
Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Foundation
Ann Leary
Michael Margitich
And others. A complete list is available from PBS

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity is a production of Aubin Pictures in association with Archer Gray Productions and Chicken and Egg Pictures. This program was produced by Aubin Pictures, Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.
© 2014 Aubin Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved.

Executive Director for PIC
Leanne Ferrer

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Can dance be both an art form and a sport? What do you think qualifies as art, and does it have to be meaningful for you? Is this form of dance worth the risk these dancers take with their bodies? What’s the most extreme physical activity you’ve done and how does it compare to what the dancers in the film pull off?
Please review our comment guidelines.
Can dance be both an art form and a sport? What do you think qualifies as art, and does it have to be meaningful for you? Is this form of dance worth the risk these dancers take with their bodies? What’s the most extreme physical activity you’ve done and how does it compare to what the dancers in the film pull off?