N A N C Y   S T A R K   S M I T H

C O N T A C T   I M P R O V I S A T I O N

A N D   T H E   U N D E R S C O R E :

E M B O D I M E N T   A N D   C O L L A B O R A T I O N


A workshop for experienced contact improvisers designed to refresh, deepen, and refine their dancing in Contact while expanding compositional awareness and integrating CI into a broader field of improvised dance activity. Our practice will focus on physical training in CI, listening practice, discussion, and various improvisation structures — all in relation to Nancy’s Underscore, a long score for composition/contact/jamming that she’s been developing since 1990.
We will study physical and energetic changes of state, natural (and deliberate) composition, presence, and relationship — in groups, solo, and in contact.
Through moving and observing, we’ll tune our dancing and awareness so that we can improvise more consistently with freedom and focus — ready, embodied, articulate, generous, innovative, artful, and human.
Simple, complex, simple.

Nancy and Juha Viitamäki, Helsinki, Finland, 2007

Nancy Stark Smith first trained as an athlete and gymnast, leading her to study and perform modern and postmodern dance, greatly influenced by the Judson Dance Theater breakthroughs of the 1960s in New York City. She danced in the first performances of contact improvisation in 1972 with Steve Paxton and others and has since been central to its development as dancer, teacher, performer, writer/publisher, and organizer. She has traveled extensively throughout the world teaching and performing contact and other improvised dance work with Paxton and many other favorite dance partners and performance makers, including Ray Chung, Julyen Hamilton, Karen Nelson, and musician Mike Vargas. She co-founded Contact Quarterly, an international dance journal, in 1975, which she continues to co-edit and produce. Her work is featured in several books and films, and she has been developing the Underscore, a long-form dance improvisation structure, since 1990. 
Her first book, Caught Falling: The Confluence of Contact Improvisation, Nancy Stark Smith, and Other Moving Ideas, came out in 2008. She lives in western Massachusetts. 

Nancy Stark Smith and Charlie Morrissey, Moscow, Russia, August 2010

The workshop will be taught in English.

For movers with intermediate and advanced level experience in contact improvisation. Fluency in English required.
Note: Although levels in CI are difficult to assess, your CI practice should comfortably include: fluency with falling, rolling, weight taking and giving, being upside down, dancing with disorientation, following a point of contact, working with subtlety (and exertion), and improvising in physical contact. Other background in dance and improvisation a plus. 

With your registration, please send a few sentences about your experience with contact improvisation, other dance and improvisation work, and your reasons for wanting to attend this workshop. Thank you.


More about the Underscore:
THE UNDERSCORE is a long-form contact/improvisation/jamming/composition score that Nancy has been developing since the early 1990s as a framework for dance improvisation research and practice. It guides dancers through a series of “changing states” — from solo relaxation and sensitizing to gravity and support, through warm up, group circulation and interaction, contact improvisation (CI) engagements, opening out into full group improvisation, and back to rest and reflection.
The Underscore is a vehicle for integrating CI into a broader arena of improvisational dance practice, for developing greater freedom moving in spherical space, and for integrating kinesthetic and compositional concerns while improvising.
The 3-4 hours of the Underscore include periods of small, quiet internal activity and other times of higher energy and interactive dancing. The 20+ phases of the score — each with a name and a graphic symbol — create a general map for the dancers. Within that frame, they are free to create their own movements, dynamics, and relationships — with themselves, each other, the group, music, and the environment.