Nancy Stark Smith, Mike Vargas
A conversation with Nancy Stark Smith & Mike Vargas about a long standing collaboration in teaching and performance. Moderated by Peter Pleyer.
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, Peter Bingham, Andrew Harwood, 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, came out in 2008. She lives in western Massachusetts. www.nancystarksmith.com
Mike Vargas began studying music in 1959. He started specializing in music for dance in 1978. He works as a freelance composer across the USA and internationally performing, teaching, recording, and improvising. For the past 16 years, he has been working around the world with Nancy Stark Smith. He teaches on the faculty of the Smith College dance department. He has released 9 CDs of his music. www.mikevargas.net