Centers of Practice: Continuing Nancy Stark Smith’s Research

January 13, 2021 - 8:00am to January 17, 2021 - 11:00pm

Programming category: 


With Patrick Crowley, Sarah Young, Jo Bruhn, Emily Wright, Ronja Ver, Maru Yeunjie, Jen Chien, Cris Turdo, Shakti Sadeh, Lisa Nelson, and Others

A 5-day virtual event focused on continuing the research shared by Nancy Stark Smith, including Contemplative Dance Practice, a workshop intensive focused on Nancy’s States of Grace “pods”, a panel discussion, film viewing, January Workshop reunion, and more. Registration for the Full Series at the bottom. Individual sessions may also be attended.




  Wednesday 1/13 Thursday 1/14 Friday 1/15 Saturday 1/16 Sunday 1/17
8-9a Contemplative Dance Practice (Full Series or Individual Sessions)
Pods: NSS Research (Full Series Only)
1-3p         Articulation & Mystery: A Panel Discussion
4:30-6p     January Workshop Reunion (3-5p) Live from Earthdance Jam with Stephen Katz  


Q&A: In-Depth Underscore Talk-Through

Zoomderscore +/-

CQ: Past-Present-Future & Influence of our Practices



All times in Eastern Standard Time.



Registration for the FULL 5-day event series is now closed. However, registration is STILL OPEN for the seperate events. Please go to those individual pages to register. (See links below.)

Full 5-Day Conference: $250 / $300 / $350
We know that Covid-19 has created more need than ever, so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns for attendance based on financial circumstances. 



Event Descriptions
All events below are included with a Full Series Registration. You also may register for individual events when indicated in the descriptions.


Contemplative Dance Practice (CDP)
Wednesday, January 13 - Sunday, January 17   8:00am - 9am EST

"[E]xplore your way of bringing meditation awareness into movement in this very moment…It's time for self-care, research, and courting the unexpected. Wait for sudden images and sensations to surprise you, to move you. Follow them. Develop them. And rest often. Encourage Kinesthetic Delight." -Barbara Dilley

20 minutes Sitting Meditation
20 minutes "Personal Warmup or Personal Awareness Practice" 
20 minutes "Open Space"

Led by Shakti Sadeh, a longtime friend of Nancy, with whom she shared weekly CDP at Studio Firenze, Florence, Massachusetts. You can also register for Contemplative Dance Only.


Pods: NSS Research
Wednesday, January 13 - Sunday, January 17   10:00am - 12pm EST

A workshop intensive focused on the States of Grace “pods,” which Nancy regularly presented during her January Workshop. There will be physical training, scores, discussion, an in-depth Underscore focus, and more. Led by Patrick Crowley, Sarah Young, Ronja Ver, Jo Bruhn, Maru Yuenjie, Jen Chien, Cris Turdo, and others. This workshop is included with Full Series Registration only; cannot be registered for individually.


Q&A: In-Depth Underscore Talk-Through
Wednesday, January 13   6:00pm-8:00pm EST

In this Talk-Through with Maru Yuenjie, Ronja Ver, & Patrick Crowley, we will go through the Phases, Connections, and Aspects of the Underscore and then have a discussion/Q&A that addresses freedom, awareness, welcoming everyone, transparency, and healing rifts in the CI/Underscore community. Maru’s new Underscore glyph video will be shown.  You can register for only the Talk-Through here.


Zoomderscore +/-
Thursday, January 14   6:00pm - 8:15pm

An Underscore on Zoom with the Underscore +/- Group in Northampton, Massachusetts which Nancy had started as a workshop opportunity 10+ years ago. This is a highlighted week in a 4-week series. You can register here


January Workshop Reunion
Friday, January 15   3:00pm - 5:00pm EST

Nearly 20 years of January Workshop alumni are invited to gather together to reflect, remember, and reminisce about their unique experience of focused study at Earthdance. A portion of the proceeds support the construction of a new dance floor at 33 Hawley, Northampton, MA, dedicated to Nancy Stark Smith.  You can also register for January Workshop Reunion Only


Contact Quarterly (CQ): Past-Present-Future & Influence of Our Practices
Friday, January 15   6:00pm - 8pm EST

Lisa Nelson talks about the past, present, and future of Contact Quarterly, international journal of dance, improvisation, performance, and contemporary movement arts, which Nancy Stark Smith and Lisa co-edited for 45 years: What were we practicing? How did it inform the creation and development of this amazing project? What is continuing? A portion of the proceeds support CQ’s transition to a CQ Resource-Archive Site.   You can also register for Contact Quarterly (CQ): Past-Present-Future & Influence of Our Practices Only


Live from Earthdance with Stephen Katz
Saturday, January 16   4:30pm- 6:00pm EST

Join us as we Live Stream this beloved local musician LIVE from Earthdance's Umbrella studio playing to a small in-house pod. Move. Eat. Dance alone or with your pod. Rest, enliven, decompose, listen in. Ponder life as these amazing musicians bring us together from afar.  You can also register for Live from Earthdance with Stephen Katz. 


Articulation & Mystery: Panel Discussion
Sunday, January 17   1:00pm - 3:00pm EST

A time to hear multiple perspectives about different elements and personal impacts of Nancy Stark Smith’s research. This is a moderated discussion with Patrick Crowley, Ronja Ver, Jo Bruhn, Sarah Young, Maru Yuenjie, Jen Chien, Cris Turdo, and others.  You can also register for Articulation & Mystery Panel Discussion Only




Patrick Crowley (Northampton, MA) started studying Contact Improvisation in 1984 at Hampshire College, then did an intensive with Nancy Stark Smith and many other CI teachers that same year. In the summer of 1990, Patrick studied with Nancy intensively while she discovered the Underscore as its own practice. For the last 12 years, he worked closely with Nancy on many dance projects, including the January Workshop at Earthdance, Glimpse projects, the Northampton Underscore +/- group, and community Underscores in Western Mass. He also currently co-coordinates the Global Underscore. Patrick has a background in contemporary dance, somatics, bodywork, yoga, meditation, improvisational theatre, performance, and sacred ritual. He has taught internationally at many universities, dance centers, festivals, and healing arts centers.


Sarah Young (Northampton, MA) has collaborated with and performed works by dance makers Nancy Stark Smith, David Dorfman, Jill Sigman, Hilary Easton, Stephan Koplowitz, and the Treehouse Shakers. She had her first Underscore Talk-Through with Nancy in 2011. Since then, she participated in Glimpse 2, the January Workshop, and the Northampton Underscore +/- group. She currently co-coordinates the Global Underscore. She served as the Executive Director of Earthdance from 2013-18. She became a Feldenkrais practitioner in 2015 under the direction of David Zemach-Bersin, NYC. She is an Alum of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, BFA 2003, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Morocco 2008-10, and mother of two-year-old Calder Savage. She currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.



yuenjie MARU (Hong Kong) is an inclusive dance facilitator, a dancer in improvisation and contact improvisation, a live performance artist and a dancing sketcher. He explores in different art media such as drawing, writing, theatre, dance, happenings, performance art and installation art. He currently is the artistic director of Make & Move, Danotcers in Hong Kong and the Mistakable Symbiotic Dance Troupe in Guangzhou, China. Based on the DanceAbility Method, he is developing the Symbiotic Dance and the Symbiotic Score. He got the DanceAbility Teacher Certification in 2012 and ContaKids Teacher Certification in 2017. He also researches “Organic Dance Performance”, the Underscore and the relationship between dance and drawing. He was a member of the Long Dance 2018, a research project with Nancy Stark Smith. 


Jo Bruhn (Portugal) Since 2001 I have dedicated my life to the performing arts in various facets. For more than 15 years I performed with the company "mosaique - fire art and artistry" at countless events all over Europe. In 2007 dance without fire arrived in my life. Delicate encounters with Contact Improvisation were the beginning. Over time I focused more and more on Contact Improvisation, attending advanced trainings, festivals and workshops. One day I reached the point where I felt that I wanted to open the horizon in other directions. This brought me to the "Dance Intensive" at the Tanzfabrik Berlin. Through this I finally acquired the skills to go deeper into the different levels and concepts of Contact Improvisation and performance. The intensive work with Nancy Stark Smith ultimately gave me the foundation and confidence to teach and to integrate Contact Improvisation into my dance projects, including the Long Dance 2018 and January Workshop 2020.


Cristina Turdo (Buenos Aires/BsAs) has been engaged as a researcher, teacher, performer and activist in CI since the late 80s. She also trained in BMC, DanceTheater, shiatzu, Yoga, ChineseMedicine, Contemplative practices, Physical Improvisation, Sacred Languages, Zen Meditation. She teaches at the ArtUnivesity; at the postgraduate "New Trends in Dance"; at “Movement DanceTherapy”, and on "Higher Diplom in Body and Expressive Practices", a post degree in Physics Education. Since 1996, she has transmitted CI in many cities/festivals in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentine. She has been invited to Europe several times to lead workshops at International Festivals, and to the US to be part of international events. She collaborated for Dance&Improv magazine(ArtUnivesity), and the Contact Quarterly journal. She has written many articles for dance magazines and contributions to texts for UNA and Brasilian University. From 1999 to 2006, she organized the “International Contact ImprovisationFestival”  in BsAs. Since 2000, she’s co-coordinated the “GlobalUnderscore” in BsAs City. Since 2015, she created the “Expandiendo Fronteras” project to exchange and integrate CI+Art with visiting teachers and dancers. During 2020, Cris created and led "EL PANAL" an online ContactImprov research group.


Ronja Ver (Oakland, CA) is a dancer, dance maker, teacher, mother, and organizer. A perpetual student of performance as a way of participating in community and a tool for social change, they are deeply inspired by physical, social and mass movement, and its capacity to create meaningful impact on a personal and global scale. A native of Finland, Ver has worked and performed throughout Europe and in the United States, including with Nancy Stark Smith and Mike Vargas in Seattle and New York City, Sara Shelton Mann, Avy K Productions, Risa Jaroslow & Dancers, and Scott Wells and Dancers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previous posts include the National Theater of Finland and Riitta Vainio Dance Company, and Ver was proud to be featured spinning underwater in Steve Paxton’s DVD Material For The Spine. Ver is continually inspired by the art and practice of Contact Improvisation, which provides a place for play and magic in their life. Ver is a co-organizer of the West Coast Contact Improvisation Jam, and co-founder of the organization InterKinected and the Finnish CI festival Skiing On Skin. Ver holds an MFA in Dance from Hollins University.


Carolyn (Shakti) Sadeh (Haydenville, MA) has been an Authentic Movement practitioner, Action Theater practitioner, therapist, teacher, workshop leader, and yoga teacher for over 40 years. She is an improvisor by nature whether in the studio, the classroom, the kitchen, or the garden. These past 15 years she has been immersed in the world of ESOL, teaching immigrant and refugee adults English. She's practiced Contemplative Dance Practice weekly for many years at Studio Firenze in Florence, Massachusetts. 





Emily Wright (Charlottesville, VA) is a dancer, movement educator, and author with a passion for the transformative power of dance. She studies and teaches Graham-based and expressionist modern dance, classical ballet, experiential anatomy, authentic movement, yoga, pilates, environmental dance, and contact improvisation. Emily first met Nancy in 2017 and took as many opportunities to study with her as possible, including the January Workshop in 2020. Emily has an MFA in Dance from Arizona State University and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of numerous publications, including Dancing to Transform: How Concert Dance Becomes Religious in American Christianity (forthcoming from Intellect Press 2021). She is currently Assistant Professor of Dance at Boston Conservatory of Berklee.



Jen Chien (San Francisco, CA) is a dancer and bodyworker turned audio journalist, currently a senior radio editor at Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. She started practicing CI in 1994 and met Nancy Stark Smith soon after that, setting off a long and life-changing teacher-student relationship. Jen has performed with companies such as Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project, STEAMROLLER, Jo Kreiter/Flyaway Productions, Scott Wells, Kathleen Hermesdorf/Albert Mathias, and Joe Goode Performance Group and has taught at venues including CounterPULSE, Experimental Performance Institute, WCCIJAM and the Freiburg Contact Festival. She lives in San Francisco with her partner, kid and two little dogs.



Lisa Nelson (Vermont), player of Tuning Scores, explorer of the role of the senses in the performance and observation of movement, considers movement ideas that are often left out of the picture. She is intrigued by dance behavior, systems of transmission and translation, patterns of surviving culture, and the sense of imagination. Improvisational dance, with inherent values of collaboration, dialogue, and flexible survival strategies has been at the core of her artistic research. Editing in many mediums has been a life practice, including Contact Quarterly dance journal since 1976.  Her writings are accessible on Critical Correspondance, and She lives in Vermont.

Photo credit: NSS making hieroglyphs at MetaAcademy@Bates 2013
video still © Rachel Boggia & Marlon Barrios Solano