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Nancy Stark Smith Workshop: Community Underscore
Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater
Chicago, IL
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Nancy Stark Smith Workshop: Community Underscore
COMMUNITY UNDERSCORE. SUN. May 7. 9:30 am - 4:30 pm.
a talk and a practice

Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater.
9:30-11:30 am Talk Thru (required), 1-4:30 pm Underscore
1.5 hour lunch break

The Underscore talk-thru Sunday morning (required for participation in the practice) will give some background as well as outline the structure in detail. This will be followed by the physical practice in the afternoon.

The Underscore is a long-form contact/improvisation/composition/jamming score that Nancy has been developing since the early 1990's as a framework for dance improvisation practice and research. It guides dancers through a series of "changing states"--from solo relaxtion and sensitizing to gravity and support, through group circulation and interaction, contact improvisation (CI) engagements, opening out to full group improvisation, and back to rest and reflection.

The Underscore is a vehicle for integrating CI into a broader arena of improvisational practice, for developing greater freedom dancing in spherical space, and for integrating kinesthetic and compositional concerns while improvising.

The 3.5 hours will include periods of small, quiet 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, relationships--with themselves, each other, the group, and the environment. Each Underscore is unique.

Previous experience with contact improvisation and attendance at the talk are required for participation in the Underscore practice.  Please send a note with your experience by email to Jessie Marasa at

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 along with other dance literature. 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, with David Koteen, came out in 2008.  She lives in western Massachusetts.

photos: Nancy Stark Smith, Helsinki, Finland and Nancy and dancers in a Helsinki Finland Underscore, 2007. photos copyright: Raisa Kyllilkki Ranta



Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater (View)
3035 N. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60618
United States

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Arts > Dance
Education > Workshops

Minimum Age: 18
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


Owner: Chicago Moving Company
On BPT Since: Jun 19, 2007
Jessie Marasa

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