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It doesn't Fly
BORN TO FLY: ELIZABETH STREB VS. GRAVITY (Catherine Gund). 82 minutes. Opens Friday (October 24) at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Feeding nothing but the titular “pop action” choreographer’s ego, Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb Vs. Gravity is a flat doc that has a lot to show but not much to tell about its 64-year-old subject. The doc feels more padded than the floor mats Streb’s gravity-defying dancers bounce off.
We spend a great deal of time getting familiar with rudimentary background on Streb – family life, dance influences and progressive dance steps are dutifully covered. Her dancers are certainly a dazzling sight, performing routines that look like accelerated Cirque du Soleil, with a lot of banging against walls or ricocheting off massive metal contraptions straight onto a chiropractor’s table.
According to Streb, being careful is frowned upon in this business. The physical punishment these dancers endure – with an ear-to-ear grin, never failing to praise their leader in the process – is the film’s most fascinating talking point.
The dark side of such commitment only rears its ugly head at the hour mark, when one dancer suffers a career-ending back injury. But she is quickly and optimistically shrugged off so that the film can move on to wonder at more of Streb’s choreographed feats, triumphantly showcased during the London Olympics.