They call it the “flying machine,” a gigantic counterweight perched center stage at the beginning of the Streb dance company’s current performance, “Slam Show 9.” Strapped into one side, dancer Christine Chen soars into the air, delicately slices over her partners’ heads, and gains speed.
The show, which ends June 17th, is filled with nail biting, death-defying stunts like these. Founder Elizabeth Streb is famous for her dangerous choreography, and leaves most viewers wincing in fearful anticipation.
Tragically last month, one of her dancers seriously injured her back during the show — a hurtful reminder of how human these daredevilers really are. But the company continued to perform the number, during which dancers run up 8-foot-tall plywood boards and flip off onto the ground.
Ironically, such stunts don’t even seem dangerous relative to Streb’s more highly theatrical ones: The dancers fall from the ceiling and hit the ground face flat. They dodge 90-pound cinderblocks. They hurtle themselves into a life-size hamster wheel as if playing double-dutch.
And when someone takes a breath for dramatic effect — like Terry Dean Bartlett does while standing on the ceiling catwalk preparing to dive off — kids in the audience can’t help but look up and squeal “JUMP!”
Remaining performances are this weekend, Fri-Sun, at 51 N. 1st St., near Kent Ave.Â (L to Bedford). Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids, available here: www.ovationtix.com.
Photo by Tom Caravaglia.