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.
Photo by Tim Roberts
The news that Nancy has gone from us hit me hard. I lose a friend and an extrordinary
Teacher. Without you "the mother of contact", today Contact Improvisation would
never have developed that way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the many
years that we have met. Your joy of dancing and personal magic, gave me and the
arlequi very important impulses. Nancy came to arlequi the first time in 1987 and
repeated her courses with Mike Vargas almost every year until 2017. They both wanted
to come last year 2019 too, but her health had not allowed it. Now she dances her
way without gravity.
Nancy loved Lilacs and I planted one on a corner in the house opposite the orange tree, there she will always be present for me in the heart.