Underscore Perspectives: A Score in Four Parts

Sharing the research of Nancy Stark Smith
Led by Sarah Young and Patrick Crowley 
with Special Guests
Hosted by Earthdance 
on Zoom

October 19, 2020 - 7:00pm to November 9, 2020 - 9:00pm

Programming category: 


October 19 Arriving Energetically (  ) Arriving Physically ( • )

October 26 Connections: Confluence, Coincidence, Contrast

November 2 Nonsynchronous Anytime All-The-Time

November 9 Full Underscore Practice (_) 

This 4–week Underscore series is a rare dive into Nancy Stark Smith’s Underscore, a long-form dance improvisational structure. Through an incremental “Talk-Through” and improvisational movement practices, we will focus on composition, listening, and articulation to study the Underscore, and the ways it can be integrated into daily life as you join virtually from your own personal spaces. Each session will involve discussion, movement, reflection (writing and warm-down), and verbal sharing.

Participants are encouraged to sign up for the full series. Individual session attendance is welcome on October 26, October 19, and November 2. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a notebook for drawing the “glyphs” of the Underscore.

Familiarity with Contact Improvisation (CI) is not necessary; a desire to explore movement generated from weight and physical forces is a plus. People come to this research from many perspectives — physical practice, community building, conceptual deepening, perceptual exploration, healing arts — so please bring yours!

This series will prepare you to join future Underscores.


About the Underscore

The Underscore was developed by Nancy Stark Smith, a Contact Improvisation pioneer and renowned teacher. The form has been evolving since 1990 and is practiced all over the globe.

There are 20+ phases, 12+ connections, and 7+ aspects of the score, each with a name and a graphic symbol, which create a general map for the movers. Within that frame, we are free to create our own movements, dynamics, and relationships — with ourselves, each other, the group, sound, and the environment.

For more information about Nancy Stark Smith and the Underscore, visit: www.nancystarksmith.com/underscore/



Earthdance is striving to create sustainable models of programming that also help create opportunities for more diverse access. This series is priced on a sliding scale to allow for a wide range of people to attend. We ask that you please pay at the highest level you can afford. This supports fair compensation for the teaching artists and the Earthdance organization while creating opportunity for those who need support to attend.

Full Series: $50 - $150 sliding scale
Single Session: $15 - $50 sliding scale



If you have any questions or concerns about cost, please email contact@earthdance.net


Patrick Crowley 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 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.