NANCY SMITH
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SMITH--Nancy Stark, age 68, a writer, editor, and dancer who co-founded the contemporary dance form called Contact Improvisation, died of ovarian cancer at home in Florence, MA, on Friday, May 1, 2020. Stark Smith was born in 1952 in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Lucille Stark and Dr. Joseph J. Smith, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. She was just five years old when her mother died. She grew up petite, a free spirit, an athlete and a gymnast with a signature long swinging braid of hair. In 1975, Stark Smith co-founded the movement's international dance journal, Contact Quarterly, which she has co-edited for 45 years with choreogapher Lisa Nelson. Up through this year, she performed and taught on five continents. In 1990, she developed the Underscore, a long- form dance improvisation structure. Each year since 2000 there has been a "Global Underscore" practiced simultaneously in as many as 70 cities all over the world. She is survived by her partner of 22 years, Mike Vargas, an improvisational composer and musician and a lecturer at Smith College, and his daughter Gray (Michael Sedlmayer) and granddaughter Zoe; her sister Susan Smith Berenzweig; brother David Chaim Smith (Rachel); stepmother Carol Smith; stepsiblings Laura Haleman (Edward) and James Rand (Susan); her nephew Adam Berenzweig (Anya Kamenetz), niece Julie Kligerman (Scott), and grandnieces, Luria Berenzweig, Hannah Jo Kligerman, and Elvera Berenzweig. "Where you are when you don't know where you are is one of the most precious spots offered by improvisation. It is a place from which more directions are possible than anywhere else. I call this place The Gap," Stark Smith wrote in a Contact Quarterly editor's note in 1987. There will be a memorial announced in the future. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Contact Quarterly www.contactquarterly.com/ donate.


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Published in New York Times on May 4, 2020.
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9 entries
May 22, 2020
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Megan Renfro
May 11, 2020
Amidst the sorrow of our loss, we have drawn strength and comfort from your thoughtfulness. For those of you who have planted a tree, we are particularly grateful for your generosity in her memory. With sincere thanks for your friendship, kindness and support. The family of Nancy Stark Smith
Susan Berenzweig
Sister
May 10, 2020
Nancy was a great friend and team mate for 35 years. She will be sorely missed.
Randy Bartlett
Friend
May 6, 2020
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Dave Covey
May 6, 2020
Grove of 35 Memorial Trees
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Olive Bieringa
May 5, 2020
My deepest sympathies to everyone that Nancy blessed with her time talent and wisdom. May we all work to keep her legacy alive and flowing out into the universe.
JulieAnn
Student
May 4, 2020
Please except my deepest sympathies to you and your family at this time of grieving
Simone Taylor
May 4, 2020
Nancy's work in contact improv - especially in the early formative years with Steve Paxton - was revelatory for me as a new dancer. Years of martial arts training gave me good proprioception but it was contact improv that showed me how to set it free. A bright light has gone out.
Nataraj Hauser
Student
May 4, 2020
Still she is and will be for ever in our smallest dance!
Marjolijn
Student
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