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Defne Erdur Eligible Member // Teacher
IDOCs » Work to be Discovered - Interview with Nancy Stark Smith - Transcription
Here you can find the video document and the transcription of the interview that was realised during the 4th IDOCDE Symposium. In summer 2016, during the 4th IDOCDE Symposium (as part of the REFLEX research), I had the chance to interview one of the pioneers of Contact Improvisation: Nancy Stark Smith. She is also the co-founder and co-editor of a pioneering dance & improvisation journal: Contact Quarterly. The interest of this interview is about the impact of this groundbreaking journal on the development of Contact Improvisation as a dance form, and its teaching and learning practices. As the editor of, I felt the pull to talk to Nancy, representing a dedicated group of dance teachers who are very much involved in documenting their work and making traces -in history- of contemporary dance today. As a result, I felt so affirmed and recognized in our practices we carry on here: in and around Thru the calling of Nancy Stark Smith and the co-editor Lisa Nelson, with respect to Steve Paxton’s legacy in leaving the center of the work empty (for the work to be discovered & announced by multitude of voices in & around documentation thru Contact Quarterly) we will hear more of the journey.

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Work to be Discovered - Interview with Nancy Stark Smith Part 1
Work to be Discovered - Interview with Nancy Stark Smith Part 2
Work to be Discovered - Interview with Nancy Stark Smith Part 3

Work to be Discovered – Interview with Nancy Stark Smith

By Defne Erdur @ 4th IDOCDE Symposium



Defne: I am here representing another track of the Symposium, which is the REFLEX track. And that is a research project; born out of IDOCDE, which is interested in helping the dance teachers to document their own work– Me trying to say one thing way wider; trying to say it in a very short sentence. And the research project is composed of many researchers; theoreticians, practitioners, dancers, dance teachers trying to find some tools and guides; seeds, ideas for dance teachers that they can make use of… When we were in our process, actually when I was in my own process of writing my own PhD, which is on Contact Improvisation and how it has an effect on Psycho-social development of individuals; amateur dancers and the community aspect of it, I realized how important it was for me to reach these magazines that are dated 1982, 1977...


Nancy: That was, the focus was on teaching, that issue…


Defne: It is so precious. The content. And what it is. If it weren’t here, I wouldn’t be here. It was that existential for me. I am a Contact teacher, trying to find her way; ways of teaching, ways of describing, ways of even relating to the material... And then this has been an amazing guide. In the Reflex research, I was also like how important it is this document for defining, for sustaining, for developing, for even transmitting the knowledge to dance teachers. As a matter of fact Contact Improvisation does not have a dance teaching certification program. Which many of the other techniques, approaches in dance choose that path and Contact did not. But then I realized this (the printed magazine) is the teaching, this is the teaching certification. That’s why I was “I’ve got to interview Nancy” who is the founder of this and co-editor with Lisa Nelson for years. And that’s the interest of today. How did it start? Why did you have this?



Nancy: Well, it was a very practical start as many things are actually, that later get aggrendized and romanticized. It was around the same time in fact was the same time, of the issue of copywriting Contact Improvisation and deciding not to do that. And that decision also was a kind of I think a fairly casual decision in fact. Although that also has been romanticized into ‘Steve Paxton giving this to the people.’ I think it was really more not just wanting to bother actually with being responsible for people’s decisions about things. Just to research the work and keep going. At that time, this was in the spring of 1975 and we had a reunion of people who had been in the first performances of Contact including Nita Little and myself and Kurt Sidall and Steve. And this issue of copyrighting… then we had the papers and we didn't sign them and I was living in a commune of gay men at the time and film makers that had the access to a photocopy machine and we decided to start a newsletter, sort of instead of copyrighting, it was more instead of pushing people away, to bring them in and say "if you are interested, find out more and participate..."



Nancy: And also people, the few people who were doing Contact at the time about maybe ten people in all were in different places in the country. So it was really a very practical way of staying in touch with one and other, there was no internet at the time actually... Which is very significant because in a way the magazine was sort of the internet for Contact Improvisation and other developing somatic work and improvisational work. So and I like to get mail. So, I said send me letters about what you are doing, who you are working with and what are the situations and what are you encountering and I would type it up, which I also like typing... And at the time actually...



Nancy: You can just cut me off whenever you want, cause I just keep going about anything pretty much... I was apprenticing a woman named Diane di Prima who is a poet and learning how to make books. Actually how to type set books and lay out books in Point Ray Station in California. And when Steve invited me to go on tour with him, after we hadn't been touch for a little, a few months. So we made this reunion but meanwhile I was working with Diane on these books. So I used her typesetting machine to typeset first issues of Contact Quarterly. Actually first couple of years I think. And we photocopied them and everybody who wrote for it got a photocopy of it. And actually we started this thing called The Contact Fund around the time of not copyrighting and we said "if anybody is teaching and making money, give ten percent to this Contact Fund and we will use it for different purposes that serve us all, like video stuff or...”



Nancy: So we used that to photocopy and send the newsletters and then we ran out of money. And nobody was really doing the ten percent thing, we did a couple of times but just didn't get going and so we asked people to pay for subscriptions if they wanted it and also people started wanting to look at it that weren't contributing which was a new step. It was like "oh, why would you want read it if you are not contributing?" So the whole thing of contributing point of view was fundamental to it. And then – I'll throw this in but we may develop it later –  that initial impulse of staying in touch with each other and to share information about what you are doing and what you are encountering and what you were developing was the impetus to make the magazine. The fact of leaving a trace over years and having someone come along and say "wow this is great, I can read these people's point of view over the years" was not the intention. It was result of the intention to stay connected and communicate.



Defne: But through that what has started accumulating has started to be interesting I feel, in a pedagogical sense also or also descriptive sense, like “what is Contact Improvisation”, "What do we teach?" "How do we teach?" so when you look at these issues and I am inviting you to scan them if you like (hands in some of the old issues to the audience) as we are talking…  There we see a poem, we see a drawing of someone, then there is the “trying to describe” – I say “trying to” because, the reason I say this is because things have been re-described, re-described, re-described by different voices, different people and then you create this amazing polyphonic carrier... But then how do you deal with that? Like... And I see you as the center of it now that you said people are sending it to you, it starts accumulating in years... How do you make the selections or what is the intention behind giving different descriptions from different people? Or "Let's put a poem there", "Let's put a drawing there", "oh another photograph" like it becomes multi-layers of documents and approaches.



Nancy: Well that's a number of things that you just bring up in terms of selection. Mostly and even still now as Coleen knows from co-editing the newsletter with me is that, you have to. We talk about ‘scratching’. You know we have a meeting before hand "who we gonna scratch now?" You know, start, get something flowing in our direction. Cause people, for one thing, people are busy but often they don't think that their news are worthy. Other; they're doing this or they're just doing this. But so… one thing was encouraging people to write, so there wasn't a problem with having too much, generally speaking. We might have had to edit things down. Then our standards started changing, in terms of like quality writing and feeling like the page space was more valuable in terms of time and money and other things, so this introduces really a different question of curating and selection. And I would say briefly, that my intention was to represent as much of the diversity of what was going on as possible; even the things that I didn't agree with and especially the things that I didn't agree with, to make a place for that at the table so to speak. And also as things became more international, to help with the language a little bit because obviously it is in English which is a major issue because there a lot of people who do Contact who don't, that is not their primary language so how to deal with that?



Nancy: Uhm... and then as the work as the magazine started including more like minded kind of work, other improvisational practices, other performance practices, somatic, the development of the somatic field; then it started growing more and more and the question of "what do we include?" with limits that we have… And I think without actually stating it exactly —and this is changing now in an interesting way and I did write about it in editorial in about couple of issues ago— somehow I always was thinking "Oh, what we've got? CI sections in the newsletter and still moving and other things; we want something about this somatic work, something about performance and maybe some space for some other things". So if there was, if it was very heavy on the performance or choreographic side we want something about the somatic work or vice versa or of Contact or non Contact Improvisation. But my feeling now… Even though I still think of it that way; a little bit of that balance. And there is... now there is this glass, the more academic, the more scholarly or scientific sort of approaches and more creative or imagestic or poetic or you know… Where is the place for all of that? But my senses that even within the field, these boundaries between the ideas what you are doing: "Is this somatic work? Is this performance work? Is this improvisation? Is this composition? Choreography?" They're starting to dissolve somehow. I mean, there are definitions for sure but people are working in a number of different areas and putting it together their own way.  Education also is there… something about teaching. Is there something about education as well as performance? So a lot of it has to do with what comes to us actually.



Nancy: We don't really have any staff, editorial staff. So it is a person-to-person kind of thing still. And I realized that as wonderful as that is, it is actually very limiting because its just who does Lisa have contact with, who do I have contact with to encourage? Who do you have contact with, who has contact with someone else so it is a people network, but it is still limiting. In some cases I'm feeling now a need to be more proactive in opening the space for voices that haven't been heard in Contact Quarterly, which makes me think then "OK what is the root of CQ?" It is vehicle for moving ideas but "What kind of ideas?" Is there a kind of unconscious selection that we are doing of like "no not those ideas..."?


Defne: I'm also interested in this intention of opening space for every voice...


Nancy: It's probably not true. It's what I'm saying now and I mean it, but when I really think about all the voices. What is that mean? You know.  And I think that there is a place for saying "You know what? There should be another magazine for that area..." You know. I remember when that happening both with the body mind centering work even though we still have stuff about somatics. They were generating more material than we could handle so they made their own magazine Currents and Body Mind Centering Association. And Authentic Movement also we had things about Authentic Movement with kind of like-minded. But then they started making their own newsletter magazine called Moving Journal and that's wonderful, I think. And now there is a proliferation of different angles that people are using just within CI; their interest, their kinds of events they are making... Is it about – you know – ‘Tantra and Contact’ or some other kind of research aspect or so: community or combinations of several of those things?  And how do they sort themselves out? How do people even know where to go to practice in the way they wanna practice, which I think is kind of an interesting moment in the field.



Defne: But do you think the openness, at least this trying and claiming that it is open from the very beginning, do you think it effects this researching mode and trying new things in the people? That it is like a chicken and egg?



Nancy: Yeah, yeah... hopefully.  Hopefully. I think that the danger of accumulation of all this history and documentation is saying "Oh this is what it is..." This is actually just what happened to make it to the page because of any number of things. But there are other points of views that aren't in the magazine, and that is what happens with things as you go along; that the things that do exist seem to really take root and create a president. So that it is harder to break out of these things and experiment in ways that are inconceivable. Karen Nelson had a nice interview with Steve at Brighten Bush that we have some aspects of in the latest issues of CQ, where Steve's talking about when "In the beginning CI was unimaginable". So the idea of ‘unimaginable’; How do you make something unimaginable after it has existed for forty years? To continue to find something unimaginable about it even, that you could imagine. So how do you keep that space open for radical change or not even radical change within something that keeps accumulating history and great stuff? So anyway that's a constant challenge and an interesting one. Because a lot of it is unconscious; the kind of things that we are leaving out and the issue of diversity, which is a word that gets used a lot now, that means a lot of different things. It hit home in the last couple of years; that I had an editorial associate Aretha Aoki who is a Japanese/Canadian woman and has worked within a community of people; people of color, queer, etc., that were not – I think – were not feeling at home with Contact Quarterly, that their voices were really welcome. I didn't realize that in fact...



Nancy: And in fact I didn't even realize until talking with her – and you can again go where you wanna go with this but – that my understanding of the word ‘queer’ was very old fashioned. You know, when I was growing up ‘queer’ meant ‘homosexual’ that is it. And now I'm sort of getting the sense that there is something very deeply in common with initial impetus of CI or in the 70s of making something that doesn't have a label, doesn't have a name, it is between things. It is not solidly one thing or another and I feel like that queering or queer thing, my sense of it is “not wanting to be, have to be judged by this or that but opening the space between things and being in discourse with things as they are” and that is very exciting. And so the question of how do we get those voices without it being a kind of token voice. How do we tap into a community and start to... with limited resources and space… so it is a bit of a bind, now that the internet wing of CQ has also opened and it is continuing to develop, we have a little bit more space. But then issue of how long do you spend editing things?


19:08 (2nd video part)

Defne: Yeah, I was just going about that... Internet is a huge vast field and now CQ stepped into that field and what is the interest? And beyond CQ there is already a lot, a lot of information surfing on the net, but than there is no editing, editorial aspect. But than there is a will to relate… and I hear in what you say that you've been willing to map out and connect this network...But now you don't know these people, you don't know or maybe they represent with their documents what they are doing. But then you read that and it doesn't resonate to you with all this history. How do you feel about it? Or what is it like...



Nancy: I'm excited about it in a way, although I also realize that there's also only 24 hours in a day and as much as I've tried to stretch that what I really value… Colleen knows that first hand too... what I really value actually is the interpersonal exchange; I love it. It works both ways I get to learn about what other people are doing by interviewing them or working on their articles, because it is very close. Like just even with Bonnie; that the choice of preposition is everything: “is it with that, is it from that, is it to that, is it between that?” Really get into some amazing details… of experiential details and try to translate experience into language and into something that could travel across time and space which dance doesn't get to do in the same way…



Nancy:  ...and maybe inspire people, to encourage them to keep working or give them ideas or all of that… it is still very exciting to me this vehicle for moving ideas, which serves the artist and serves me and serves the community, serves history and so it seems to be a win-win thing but it takes a lot of time, takes a lot of time and I like that so…



Nancy: ... to accept the limitation or the one way that we've done it is to bring on the other curators, contributing editors; always looking for people who are willing to be links to other communities, other people maybe edit it themselves also so that we can spread that out and just trust them. I mean these chapbooks that we made for the last six years and we've gone back to 2 issues of the magazine a year with a special folio instead of the external chapbook but this was an experiment in engaging other artists to actually create a publication that would be an issue of Contact Quarterly.



Nancy: ... but we were also finding that because it was such a specialized focus, a lot of our readers were feeling like “why should I subscribe if it's twice a year and one of the times a year it's something that I'm not that interested in”, so that diversity of like somatics, Improvisation, Contact really showed itself in that kind of a moment. So I'm pleased with this. Like this is our first issue this spring, as the first one that we did with this special folio that Aretha and Eliza Larson - I'm sorry it starts here- was made from the Seattle Improvisation Festival and it does bring in voices that have never been in CQ before in different ways, got a different layout -that's the idea too- is that the host editor would not only develope the content but make the pages according to specifications and we would just bring it in wholesale and add some other articles that would balance the content in terms of you know whether this… ...if the folio was about Contact Improvisation, probably other articles wouldn't be or vice versa or performance or educational and put the ads back into the thing which is its own kind of ecology of people seeing what's going on and reading content; instead of having them separated… so it's just fascinating and we’ll continue, we'll see how this goes and if we can really reach out into the community in new ways…



Nancy: ...but it's causing us to really look at ourselves also and think what is this about? What are our priorities? I've been shocked to realize also as I have gone around that within the Contact Improvisation community worldwide. We did a big survey --how many if you participated in the survey Last Summer? --

23:56 Defne: Online Survey

23:58 Nancy: ...we tried to get it out to as many people as we could in the Contact Community - it basically said “do you know about Contact Quarterly” “do you subscribe”  “if you read; what, how much do you know”… Really trying to get at what people were using and knowing about. Even of the people who responded 75% do not subscribe. Most of them -of those people- didn't even heard of CQ before. Yeah, so here we are like trying to pull, keep the Contact Improvisation documentation going with the newsletter and all these things and the vast majority of people who are just doing Contact Improvisation don't know about CQ because of the internet and facebook and other ways and they're not using it…  so should we stop doing it? Is it time to move on? Why? So we're really evaluating all that very very currently. And that's why I say if you care about it and wanted it to exist, you need to participate. It’s that participatory aspect that's easy to forget when something seems institutionalized. You think “oh it just goes on and maybe I use it or maybe I don't…”



Nancy: ...whether you bring an issue to your jam, to your class so people touch it and they see it and they know it exists; that's how it used to spread. If people don't bring it, people don't see it, because we're not in this marketplace of internet in your face every second. But -you know- maybe people don't need to know about it, what we want to do is stay with the deep research but we also have to survive, so those are also things that are in constant discussion with each other.



Defne: That brings me to my next question; of this participatory aspect of things because the way I hear when you explain, yes it engages from an editorial point but also from the teacher or the sharer’s point of view; that it creates a different relation to the work that she or he is engaged to…

Nancy: to try to bring something…

Defne: to reflect on their own work and then to make it transmittable on a document level, document that finds you or with your help it turns into the document that can find its place in these pages or online… like that's also the Reflex Europe’s interest: how can we help people to have this journey? What is documentation? How can they relate to their work; reflect on it; share it (different layers of it) with the outer world; be it their own students, be it the editorial, be it the communities to be met? Therefore my question comes to you as a dance teacher who has already done that for her own work and has written a book, I mean as an example let’s take it as a case…



Nancy: Which never would have happened if Coteen – you know – have not forced me to do this. And so I actually haven’t written a book about my work. I have worked on a lot on other people’s writing and he kind of forced me… this was more…  the trick was he said “can I interview you about CI for the Sun Magazine” which is...How many of you know the Sun Magazine? It is really a nice journal in the States that has a lot of reader input and it has a subject each time and it is just really beautiful writing.



Nancy: So I said okay and we did one and we didn't really feel like we got to it right and then we wanted to do another one, we had another one. My father died then, so I've got all these photographs of the family. Well let’s have family pictures and pictures of you as a child and I started feeling weird about it and I said let’s get some other voices and so I wrote to some colleagues and they wrote in. And so what if people don't know what Contact is so we made a Contact chapter. Well you know there should be something about the underscore and it was like the stone soup story - if you know that start making a soup with a stone and water and then maybe a carrot and then you keep adding and then you have the soup and you wonder how you got it.



Nancy: But the underscore chapter actually was challenging because it had been an oral tradition only up to that point so the transition to actually putting something on paper for other people that I’m not in physical presence with are reading it, out of context made me feel really weird. But I felt like there was some value in that for a number of reasons and I'm actually glad we did it. But your question about documentation and the translation of practice into another medium...



Defne: ... Underscore in itself is like a notation, it is a notation.

Nancy:... right and it works both ways it's like “great we can sort of try to get there again” or notate something so you can reproduce it but also hopefully that you could use it as a platform for more experimentation and experience -- is the hope of all that. I mean that brings up another question; what is your intention in documenting? Is it about preserving something? Is it about generating something? Is it about communicating something? And they're more than reasons than that, is it promoting something? I mean some of these are results of other things that weren't the initial reason but then how are people using it? Because nowadays with the internet and everything there are just so many platforms for sharing and they have a different quality and they have a different use; you put a link in there, someone can go to something right away, otherwise it just two weeks and a lot of money to send something but then you have this physical thing and you put it in the Attic of your house and in fifty years somebody finds it. Like where you find the stuff? Or would you ever find the stuff in 50-100 years, that somebody sent today? And does it matter? And maybe there's too much stuff in the world like thank God you know it just disappears as soon as it happens.



Nancy: ... so there’s all those questions also. So why do you want to send it? Who; who's going to receive it? And that may determine the choices that you make in the modality you use, in the length and the language, in lots of things if you really think about conveying something to somebody. If it's just for yourself to help refine your thinking which is definitely a lot of what people writing in their notebooks or, or just communicating it to students so you don't have to repeat it every time. So I think those questions are real and exciting and helpful and challenging. I mean – the hieroglyphs things that I did – these are big versions- is a practice that I still do but not as often; in helping dancers feel comfortable extending their bodily experience onto a piece of paper. Because writing, language is like a huge leap for everybody probably in one way or another. It is very different medium and so all kinds of things kick in at that point; “I can't” and “it's never going be” and “why?”… So the idea of like we did it physical relaxation, I talk to people through a physical relaxation… And they have a piece of paper and a pen next to them and then with their eyes still closed they find the pen and touch the paper and just try to actually move the pen as an extension of the movement of energy that you feel in your body and then take it off… and well actually the first version was continuous; it was almost like an EKG or something or some energy graph; a continuous energy graph just to get over that distance to the page and then we would do; you would open your eyes and maybe try doing it again but just doing a move and stopping and then doing another one, another one, another one which starts to get close to individual words or glyphs or some things and then we would do them on the page you could do it top to bottom left to right but it wasn't a drawing... it was language.



Nancy: But it wasn't a word, and then you would share with other people. I give you mine and I'll take yours and I would read yours and feel resonance with something or another and I may put a dot next to the one that you know; I kind of felt connected to … so it was just sort of again trying to bring experience forward into a piece of paper and then you know language is still a step from there.  But I'll stop there, did I at all touch your question?



Defne: Well you are touching many layers that I'm interested in and that this is all very insightful for our research I would say, because there's a lot of moving teachers who are using drawing and writing and we are as a subgroup interested in the different ways and intentions of doing this and “what is the value of that scribble in itself, aesthetically, as a means to reflect on your experience and is it just about the process, and you just throw it away? Like all these questions come with the ideas of outcome and the process...



Nancy: In fact, we mentioned this right before I came in, is one part of it is about the generation of these traces you could say but then what do you do with them once you've made them? Because again proliferation of stuff, drawings… You know one conference send me those giant brown paper roll with little post-it notes with these different phrases on… I thought: “am I supposed to keep this?” and I do have it still actually, but I've been looking at it saying: “God, I can't keep this. I wasn't even there.” You know … so the question is: does it get typed up and then it's on a piece of paper and then we publish it and then we can get rid of the original artifact? I save way too much stuff and it's kind of interesting sometimes to look at it and maybe in an archive somewhere in the Lincoln Center Library… select which things should continue to exist in physical form and which things are fine to translate into other media that people can use and get benefit from; but the process of evaluating the stuff and thinking okay what's the next step for this and why and then putting the time into it rather than just generation, generation; generate, generate, generate... and then put in your closet, put in your closet; like is there a synthesis? Is there a next step that makes it usable and keepable for a while? Or for how long? That’s really a big question, certainly for us even with our 40 years of back issues of the magazine; digitizing them and then what do we do with the physical things? Now people are getting more passionate about it I hear “No, you have to have the physical thing”. So it's good to hear that, you know, even from younger people because I thought it was maybe a generational thing, that you know the younger they were the less interested in the physical paper but I don't think that's quite true… anyway…



Defne:  It gets physical and cyber; you were mentioning a project  Round Robin Project.  Which comes from a very physical practice, the name Round Robin; but then I feel that you see a potential in this form for sharing, documenting moving ideas…

Nancy: Yeah... well this is been one of the most glacially moving project that I have ever been part of. The slowest moving development. When we did the 36th anniversary event for Contact Improvisation in 2008: CI 36, was also at a point where there have been a lot of proliferation of Contact Improvisation websites and things on the internet which to me feels like the wild west, you know. It's like any outposts; stick your stick in and build a little campsite and it's yours. You know, I mean it's great, that's wonderful and I feel like in many ways Contact Improvisation is an outgrowth of the wild west of America. Where you think you know like if it's not there I'm going to make it, cause I'm not going to wait for somebody to build an institution and move into it. I'm going to make it myself so you know I feel like the spirit of that is in Contact but so I wasn't interested in changing that but it started to feel like nobody could find anything.



Nancy: because it was all over the place and it became a person-to-person thing, which is fine… Like “here check out this link and here is my website” and so that all seems fine, but some instinct that I had that felt like may be old-fashioned and really not relevant and I'm still questioning it… Like make a way to gather that information and so people could get access to what they're looking for and my image initially was of walking into a big building and there is a lobby and it has a thing that says “library is there”, you know “TV studios there”, “ballet studios there”, “kitchen is down”, that you know where to go to get what you want and to try to; to some degree categorize the websites. Are they individual websites and publications? Are they video and create something online that would be free? And all that would be contributed to by anybody, so that if you have a website with “oh mine should be listed” then you can list it. Sort of like your contacts list in CQ, it is a referral situation if you're in Rio de Janeiro and nobody else is listed and there is Contact Improvisation they put your name down if you're willing to have people call you and say or email you and say is there Contact? Is there a jam? Is there a class? And then you put them. That's what we've been doing for 40 years but even that is now a question of whether we should. It's on our website so and it's being refreshed, actually Danny Lepkoff has been spending like, and Lisa Nelson, just thousands of hours doing the most tedious stuff to try to... refresh the process of the contacts lists… So check it out on a and participate. I was saying yeah Round-Robin so this is developed into two areas now, one is a calendar; like what if there was a global Contact Improvisation calendar that you could go to online and you could put your event there and if you're going to Australia in August you could check what's happening in Melbourne in August and who to contact.

Defne: it's also to keep supporting the practice and practitioners.

Nancy: Yes, definitely and also that you could put your event there without having to know the part of this facebook thing, or that thing; you have this Global calendar. Nobody is currating it except that there would be this caretaking committee, we’re trying to think about how it works so that it wouldn't be just anybody. Somebody tried to list themselves and Contact Quarterly a few years ago from Cote d'Ivoire and I thought great you know there's some Contact Improvisation in the Ivory Coast in Africa and so I looked at their little application and they basically had a boutique. I mean they didn't know what CI was in other words, they were just advertising their store and so they didn't get added to the list but it's not like anything other than that. Either you really know Contact Improvisation is and then you get listed or not… so there would be some caretaking in that sense to keep it useful.



Nancy: The technology has been very challenging and other aspects… Collin has been working really hard on that too and you can talk to her about it and Ecky Miller is part of this team from the Freiburg festival and Dieter Heitkamp has been very very involved and cause he is Mr. Archive and so this is the other aspect of the Round-Robin Project.  Not just a global calendar, but a global archive and the question is whether it would just be a listing of that is on the internet? A listing of… okay I have the artifact for the original letter that was going to copyright Contact Improvisation and we didn't do it. It’s been in my office, in my room so I could list it, that it exists; but you have to come to my house to see it. Or there's some things that you can link to or some things you could buy, so it could be anything that is of value in the field if someone wants to and it is in Spanish, it's in Portuguese so that we know what's out there and then you could follow up in whatever way you want to follow up but so you're not chasing things, only finding the things that might happen to be listed in the Library of Congress or something like that.


42:52 (3rd video part)

Defne: I remembered another chat we had; you talking about encouraging people to be innovative; be them teachers, be them students... and that kind of being in the spirit of the art form; but also the people who keep trying to hold it. Here I see in this attitude also laying it out and allowing people to be innovative in the ways that utilize these archives or documents or lists.



Nancy: And we’ll see, I mean, if anybody is interested in this and wants to help, please be in touch with us. We’re kind of at a turning point and it looks like things are moving forward but I think that IDOCDE, I think that spirit is important. Like ECITE; all of these people actually making events, changing the kinds of activities to see what's really needed now, for the people who are needing support, inspiration, communication and what's really interesting to me -and I know we're running out of time- is when a form stops being useful and what you do then?



Nancy: And I remember at ECITE at a certain point, an early ECITE in Amsterdam innovated some formats, like I think it was the co-teaching and study labs and some other things that really were fantastic and people loved them. So they persisted from one ECITE to the next, because it moves to different countries every year; which is also great because each one can host it in their way with the place that they have. And somethings stop being, and I remember maybe it was one of the ones in Budapest or something, where it had been going on so long that the senior teachers were looking for their own kind of interest and support and stuff but there were a lot of younger teachers who were coming to kind of learn how to teach, so the senior teachers were serving the junior teachers but then they were feeling like “wait a minute you know I work all year and I'm spending money to come to this like – you know – I need something too. And so there was the question of “how do we innovate something that works for what we need now?” And how do we even talk about it? How do we have potential little conflicts? Or, and use the principles of collaboration that we're learning in the work and applying them perhaps to how we run these things and how we talk to each other and how we make, we let go of things that are not working anymore maybe and try something new. Constantly with Contact Quarterly that's happening and I'm not good at it, I have to say. I'm good at generating, I'm good at maintaining, I’m good at refining and I'm not good at letting go. Thus here I am! For better or for worse!



Defne: But I hear in this – just to wrap up – this place of being descriptive and prescriptive; where all these things are happening, you are actually defining but then also they project into the future. But then they come from what has been lived, so this seems to be in balance between the past and the future, all this. It is always a constant search of “I have this. Who is going to do what with it or not?” Or “this has happened” so I have to make it visible… so this between past and future, between the audience and the creator, the teacher and the student, we are juggling, we are dancing…



Nancy: You know when people talk about succession planning in America, have you ever heard of that? Like what's going to happen next and, and it was actually very inspiring when Merce died. Before he died they decided that they would disband the company and they would have a world tour, they would archive things and then they would disband. Whereas Martha Graham Company still exists now and it had all kinds of problems around the names and copyrights and whatever but there is this. And does anyone make new work in Graham style whatever. So you know it's come up in our organization, like what would happen after I go and Lisa goes or something… and are there people? And how would it change? So like could this vehicle for moving ideas continue to move ideas after we're not putting in a lot of volunteer time. It's not really a paying job. Not that it couldn't be, not that somebody couldn't be great at getting money for things and then make it a paying job. So that's an open question both now and for the future; what is it going towards? And what are its values that it should continue to be refreshed? Even with new content as well as older forms that continue to be documented… So we'll see…



Defne: Before we call the day, call the session; as you suggested and I find it very valuable; maybe we just hear few sentences, like questions that may have arisen, not to elaborate on them now but at least put them into the space and everybody finds innovative ways to deal with them, I don't know maybe collaborative ways or written ways.


48:20 Questions & Comments from the audience:

Audience 1:

With no intention of doing it, you created history by leaving a trace and concepts, with all the consequences of that.

Second thing is about the question of which things should continue to exist in physical form and which not? And I felt this from my personal life; by doing this process of compiling, archiving, synthesizing, it’s so huge and long, it directs all the energy to the past. Sometimes you have to find a balance to go the future as well.

Audience 2: in audible.

Nancy : I’ll just say that here is an article in the previous issue about core proposition and the empty middle. Discussion about how the frame of Contact persists and how, one thought about keeping space open for unknown developments seems important in what Steve proposed, what we keep trying to do in our own ways.

Defne: I remember Martin Keogh saying, “we are not trying to make the frame thicker so that there is no space inside”.

Nancy : Although its tricky because we are generating more exercises, concepts, principles and they all seem so good and useful and then the frame gets thicker and the space inside gets smaller.

Audience 3: Colleen Bartley:  Just something that I’ve noticed cause I’m involved with Contact Quarterly and have been teaching at ECITE, and so I’ve been around this a lot but I’ve noticed that sometimes people can get very attached, like in ECITE – I went to one ECITE and they were like, we have to do it like this because they did it like. They forget that it is a proposition, it is a question. The gathering is, the ECITE the whole format is that its created by people that are there. It’s a place and time thing that’s practical but the content gets generated and sometimes I think people forget that… It’s just interesting to notice, same thing with the practice of Contact itself. I can see people saying its like this, this is Contact. That’s something that I am always aware of even when we are editing. There are kinds of articles that get submitted… For me its always an open question, same thing with  underscore like I don’t know what’s gonna happen but I’m gonna dive in. I don’T know this is just an observation. The documents are really useful but sometimes people hang on to them and hang out to the form. … What I understand by studying with Nancy that they are principles but they are not rules. They are questions and the practice itself is always new for me anyway. But I can see that… it’s just interesting to notice…



Defne:  To be able to let go, you should be holding on to something to start with. Definitions and these things they help to elaborate…

Audience 4: I was thinking of from scientific perspective, Contact Improvisation from political science point of view and its really incredible to see how there is always this debate between the form and the principles; very small moments… to me its very interesting to try to tap into a very small moment like 2 seconds to understand what’s happening there to me its very interesting how it expands and shrinks at the same time because it gets very precise what forces influence that decision like do I give an impulse or not, what happens gets very precise, very sensitive, very wordy. We also have to be creative for the concepts to be precise but at the same time it’s actually like studying the principles of it, the snapshot of it… So maybe about the documentation of the form there might be the same way to resolve, it’s sort of like getting precise about certain principles and allowing the form and the dynamics to fill the space to influence new people.



Nancy: Yeah, I think that the precision of the editing is an effort to let people be precise in what they are pointing out. Whether it’s about a feeling or a physical principle or anything. And then the space that is created between all of those points of view, I think, is where the infinite aspects, philosophical aspects or the more interpretive aspects of it probably arise, and have space to arise…



I just thought of this great image that Richard Heckler (any of you heard of him? American psycho-physical, very smart guy also aikido black belt. We taught some workshops together). And he talked about this image called about the cup and the quart.  It’s about change. He wrote a book called Anatomy of Change. Let’s say you’ve got a cup of stuff and this is like life. This is what you’re dealing with. You drink and you fill it and you drink it and it’s all fine. But suddenly it seems too small. You are ready for more. And you see a quart container across the table and you think hmm I like it but I’m holding this. So you have to put this down. Let go of it to reach for the other. In between you don’t have either, so I loved this image that he had of. Reaching, putting it down and reaching on some level for the next thing… I love that.



Defne: I think that’s an amazing closing anecdote. Thank you for sharing.

Nancy: Thank you for bringing us here.

Defne: Thank you, there is more space for discovering more from now on.

Nancy: Always.



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