On Saturday afternoon, a few hundred people gathered at Gansevoort Plaza just south of the High Line to see STREB Extreme Action Company in ASCENSION. The site-specific work was created by choreographer Elizabeth Streb as part of the series Whitney on Site: New Commissions Downtown. In over 90-degree heat, the audience squinted as nine dancers threw themselves onto a twenty-one foot rotating ladder. Working together and often shouting or cheering each other on to the dramatic thumping of a score by David Van Tieghem, the dancers fearlessly climbed the ladder, hung upside down as it rapidly rotated, or lay parallel to the floor as it came within inches of hitting them. Under the glare of the sun, it was wonderful to see their concentration and collaboration throughout this brief, daring piece.
ASCENSION is part of KISS THE AIR!, a new body of equipment-based Essential Acts by Streb, which will be premiered at Park Avenue Armory in December 2011.