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Nancy Stark Smith

Nancy Stark Smith first trained as an athlete and gymnast, leading her to study and perform modern and postmodern dance. 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, with whom she has been co-teaching and collaborating since 1998. In 1975, she co-founded Contact Quarterly, an international dance journal, 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.

www.nancystarksmith.com Nancy Stark Smith, Photo:Photo by Tim Roberts
Photo by Tim Roberts
Mike Vargas: Photo by Alfiya Rakhmanova
Photo by Alfiya Rakhmanova

Mike Vargas has been performing and teaching internationally for the last 35 years. He started working with dancers in 1978. Highlights include working with Bebe Miller and touring with Liz Lerman in the '80s, working at Naropa Institute, re-focusing on piano and meeting Nancy Stark Smith in the '90s, and composing at least 150 commissioned dance scores from 1983 through 2009. He has published two articles and a deck of cards about composition and improvisation and so far composed and recorded nine albums of original music, all available on the Internet. For the last 20 years hes been touring, playing, and teaching with Nancy. Since 2007, hes been on the faculty in the Smith College Dance Department. www.mikevargas.net www.mikevargas.net

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