Santa Barbara

Streb/Ringside

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

The events that comprised “Action Occupation,” a series of performances by Elizabeth Streb’s decade-old group Streb/Ringside, were a cross between acrobatics and modern dance, fighting and flying, football and ballet. Bodies plummeted through space, slammed against walls, dangled precariously from harnesses, battered each other, or lay inert, waiting to be crushed. At their best, the “Action Occupation” events were exhilaratingly energetic; at their worst, they resembled an amateur game of rugby, in which chaotically hurtling bodies threatened to reduce each other to heaps of motionless flesh.

Streb cites the dancers Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, and Lucinda Childs as influences, but her work definitively strips dance of its elegance as well as its capacity to reference the outside world. That is, Streb orchestrates the aggressive movements of her dancers with seemingly no other goal than

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