Big Stage | 12.07.2014 | noon – 3.30 PM

Nancy and dancers in a Helsinki, Finland, Underscore, 2007. © Raisa Kyllikki Ranta
Nancy Stark Smith and Charlie Morrissey performing at the Moscow Contact Festival, Moscow, Russia, August 2010. © Ilya Domanov


A talk and a practice
with Nancy Stark Smith and Mike Vargas (music)

THE UNDERSCORE is a multi-phase structure for improvised dance that Nancy has been developing since the early 1990s as a framework for dance improvisation research. 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 3.5 hours will 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, the music, and the environment.

The Underscore talk-through (required for participation in the practice) will provide some background and outline the structure in detail, to be followed the next day by the physical practice itself, which will include periods of silence and periods of live music improvised/composed by Mike Vargas.

Previous experience with Contact Improvisation and attendance at the talk are required for participation in the Underscore practice!