Intro to STREB's pop action (But really, don't try this at home)

STREB dance starts with the principle that people can fly. Naturally, the concept is daunting. Here are a few core movements to get you started. Grab a mat or lightly padded surface and try these at home:

PERFECT LINE Kinda like how zero is actually a number too, this is a crucial physical position. Stand up straight and face forward, feet together, toes touching. Push the weight of your legs through the balls of your feet (not the heels or toes, like in ballet) while pushing your upper-body weight through the crown of the head. The belly stays taut and compact, but not overly flexed. This is the starting (and ending) point for many of these moves.

VERTICAL POP The action of bouncing, rotating, or turning without doing the deep bend of the balletic plié. From the Perfect Line position, quickly hop up and down without flexing the legs, using only the balls of the feet. Next, try turning, rotating the body 45, 90, or 180 degrees between pops. See how close you can get to popping a full 360-degree turn.

HORIZONTAL POP Though it can be done on your back or your belly, this is a bit tougher than the Vertical (and feels a lot more ridiculous). Lying prone with arms at your side and feet together flexed forward, quickly lift the chest and legs upward before "popping" the torso and hips off the ground. The goal is to levitate, however briefly. Don't be afraid to use your hands for support. Once this feels comfortable, try rotating the body in increments of 90 degrees, popping from the prone position to your side, side to belly, etc.

PRATFALL Think of this as an "Intro to Falling" exercise. From the Perfect Line position, have a mat in front of you at least the length of your body. The action is simple: lean forward, hands at your sides and legs straight (but not locked at the knees) in a falling motion. Try to get as close to the mat as possible before breaking the fall at the last possible moment. As soon as the body comes to rest, push yourself back up and try it again. For a more advanced version, try the Dolphin Dive, the same basic action, but with a jump between Perfect Line and landing.

FALLING You can't learn to fly without first learning to fall. In the meantime, you may as well build a tolerance by smashing into things. Once the shock of the pratfall has worn off, try it in reverse by doing a quick 180 pop before falling. Before long, the body won't need a cushion; it'll become its own. You may never look at a wall the same way again.

Nicholas Schroeder can be reached

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Related: 2009: The year in dance, Happy returns, Review: Caitlin Corbett, Daniel McCusker, and Kelley Donovan at the ICA, More more >
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