The Underscore

juliet1 (2)

“The Underscore is a long-form dance improvisation structure developed by Nancy Stark Smith. It has been evolving since 1990 and is practiced all over the globe. The form includes contact improvisation and allows for a full spectrum of energetic and physical expressions, embodying a range of forms and changing states. Its practice is familiar yet unpredictable.

“The practice will progress through a broad range of dynamic states, including long periods of very small, private and quiet internal activity and other times of higher activity and interactive dancing. There are 20+ phases of the score – each with a name and a graphic symbol – which create a general map for the dancers.Within that frame, dancers are free to create their own movements, dynamics and relationships – with themselves, each other, the group, the music and the environment. Each Underscore is unique… though not designed as a performance form, it offers rich and often inspiring views of the human and artistic phenomenon of dance improvisation.”

Nancy Stark Smith – Extended Underscore Workgroup Sharing, Roehampton University London 2012

Juliet Shelley was introduced to the Underscore by Nancy Stark Smith in January 2000 at a three week dance intensive at Earthdance, in Massachusetts, the USA. She has taught and danced the Underscore in New Zealand, the UK and Australia. In June 2012 she was a participant in the Extended Underscore Workgroup – eight days of intensive practice, discussion and research into the Underscore at Roehampton University.

The Underscore