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In the hour and a half I spent at S.L.A.M., I don’t think I saw a single curved line. The cavernous rehearsal/ performance “lab” is like a three-dimensional Mondrian painting: Floor-to-ceiling scaffolds, which serve as souped-up jungle gyms, are juxtaposed with blue squares and yellow rectangles, and flank red and black mats strategically placed to break the falls of dancers who face-plant from perilous heights like timbering trees.
Elizabeth Streb operates on principles of mathematics and physics. In superhero suits (also primary-colored), her dancers call—or, more accurately, shout like drill sergeants—upon laws of Newton and Houdini, walking up walls, flying through space, spin-ning, diving, and pitching themselves and each other into angular shapes: capital Xs, Ys,and Ts. In Gauntlet, Streb’s latest tour de force, dancers move gin- gerly among pendulum-swinging cinder blocks, eliciting cries of terror and delight from the audience. Fearless, industrious, and strong, these dancers embody all we wish we could be.