19 June 2011, 12 noon – 4pm
Chicago Harvest
As the last event of a weeklong Dance Improvisation Fest produced by Columbia College Dance Center and Links Hall (organized by dancer/improviser Lisa Gonzales and others), Nancy and Mike hosted the Global Underscore 2011 in Chicago.
The talk-thru (Saturday) and Underscore (Sunday) took place in Columbia’s pleasant, spacious, “black box” theater—a wide, Marley-covered floor space with about 10 rows of comfortable raked seating rising from the floor level. Our dance encompassed the full room. Mike had a grand piano on the stage/floor area along with other instruments and electronics. 35 dancers gathered from Chicago and further afield to practice together. We were excited to be joining everyone in this worldwide mostly-simultaneously practice of the Underscore.
            We had a computer set up on a standing podium near the Underscore pages and maps, where people could—during the dancing portions of the Underscore—stop by and jot down a “real-time harvest” image or thought. Then, after the Final Resolution, we shared harvest while Clare Tallon and Hope Goldman scribed furiously into the laptop. Both harvests, and the list of names, are below.
            Thank you, Claire Filmon, for creating this Global Solstice Underscore, and thank you Jesse and Dey for making it happen so lightly and joyfully this year.
            And thanks to everyone for jumping into the score on such short notice. Amazing!
            Love to you all,
Nancy Stark Smith (Florence, MA), Mike Vargas (Florence, MA), Laura Swedenborg (Ashtabula, OH), Hope Goldman (Chicago), Chantelle Hougland (Urbana, IL), Alysha Perrin (High Point, NC), Nicole Alexis Klein (Die, Drôme, France), Noam Frankel (Chicago), Laura Sova (Chicago), Carly Czach (Chicago), Keland Scher (Chicago), Mars Miquelon (Mazomanie, WI), Debbie Safeblack [sp?] (Chicago), Rachel Brezis (Chicago), Allison Smith (Chicago), Heather Good (Madison, WI), Michael Carrico (Chicago), Keisha Turner (NYC & Illinois), Kori Martodam (Chicago), Tihana Jovanic (Ashburn, VA), Rossi Dimikonova (Chicago), Travis Robb (Chicago), Kate Fiello (Chicago), Chad Cole (Mount Prospect, IL), Holly Jaycox (Battle Ground, IN), Rek Kwawer (Madison, WI), Ray Chung (San Francisco, CA), Andrew Brightman (Battle Ground, IN), Rob Welcher (Chicago), Jason Seymour (David Lakein) (Berlin), Jija Sohn (Williamsport, IN; Amsterdam, NL), Ingrid Skoog (Bloomington, IN), Clare Tallon Ruen (Evanston, IL), Lindsay Reich (Wilmette, IL), Daniel Halkin (Chicago, IL)
Real-time Harvest
12:43 we transition from pow-wow to bathroom, stretching, early preambulating. We are 35 in the room. And off we go.
Joy feat play ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Sacred v ordinary. Poetic v mundane. Holding space for both at all times.
Stretching v dancing. Dancing v dancing w Mike music: making every move seem important, intended, poetic, fluffy, deep
What does it mean in this context to cause a R
Some people did small dance for 10 minutes or more.
One eager. One tearful. Manybeingwheretheyare.          
As we stood facing Buffalo, at first, I imagined a string running through each of our cores and gradually twisting into one rope just outside this room; that rope ran to Buffalo, where it unwound and each string connected to a person there then twisted into the rope again past their room. That rope twisted and untwisted its way around the world and back through us. Eventually, I imagined that it was pure energy and light that connected all of us.
When facing east with the rest of my comrades in this circle I felt very warm. My temperature and energy rose.
The power of stillness to unite holds such beauty.
What is it about that which is unfamiliar to us, which often sends us—whether near or far—a distance away…?
Per  me   a  b     l             e
Hey ho n away we go
How could I think that I can’t live without this
I bowed at 3:00 because it felt like a beautiful moment.
Silence fills the room, the clearest sound: Patience.
Random is beautiful.  Almost falling makes me happy.
There is so much beauty in fear      aosnocasbp9ah9ahjshqvpweh
It is generous to fall….
Every person has the ability to connect with another. ‘Connecting’ is exclusive to no one. You just have to be open to it.
The silence of the harvest
After the hefty grazing,
They rest like monkeys in the sun,
With no predators in sight
Dancing in red lipstick for the first time, for some flair under the white-cold LED’s of the Columbia stage studio. Wondering half a dozen times: “Is it all over my face?” Thankful for the serendipitous wearing of black sleeves.
(Holding Mike’s big baby toy “instrument” as a talking stone.)
Keland: so many moments of beauty that I thought I was done crying and I started again. I felt so grateful and appreciative to be home after a break. How did I think I could do that [take a break]
Ray: Can’t think of a better way to spend my first visit to Chicago.
Kori: it was so great to be able to dance so un-self consciously, it usually takes me a week of festival
Chad: my first week of CI and I finally found something I’ve been searching for my whole life
Nancy: I really loved those sparse piano chords Mike played in the beginning—one chord and then let a lot of time passed and then another one. Linked in an irregular and deeply satisfying way. I also observed for awhile, 3/4 of the way through, and I felt very engaged: I was watching a city, an environment of engaged, erratic, irregular, yet porous individuals and events. I felt interested and fully engaged.
Mike: it was about 3 o clock when I looked up, and I had to bow cause it was beautiful. I guess we kind of live for those moments. I guess everyone’s more or less ok, doing what they want to be doing; seems like a pretty good deal
Rosie: I’m very grateful what you taught us yesterday, the container, I felt that today, to connect to people so seamlessly, to allow the moment to happen by itself. It was graceful. At one point I thought I was dancing with someone…but ended up I was dancing with someone else.
Mars: I want to say…the permeability of sacred and mundane. I had to plug the parking meter, but I also organize workshops and Nancy I just wanted to thank you because when you came to Mazo three years ago you mentioned this. And I struggle much less now than I did then about the permeability of the sacred and mundane; that practice has really helped me.
Laura: I didn’t know anybody when I got here…now I feel I do
Rob: I was with several of you at Martin’s workshop. 5 kinds of contact dancers: wind in your face, and river of sensation. How do I choose those dances based on choosing certain partners, interesting
Michael: so many different people, so many different dances, you expect stability and get softness and vice versa, you expect softness and you get this strength. Some of the smallest things can take up a whole dance, fingertips
Keisha: I was filled with gratitude for this practice, especially when we faced Buffalo, I had an energetic circle around the globe. Also a lot of gratitude, I didn’t know anybody before this day and I suddenly had someone’s legs around my neck…
Lindsey: this is wonderful. I had a rough long morning before I came and you all are wonderful
Rachel: Moment in the skinesphere noticing the reflections of the people on the [Marley] floor … that was very powerful when connecting to the ground. I thought the facing was also powerful, I was thinking of facing Jerusalem, [the way we do as Jews sometimes when we pray] it was powerful to think someone was facing my way
Andrew: I enjoyed Telescoping Awareness, catching someone’s eyes across the room
David/Jason: armpits, mystery woman, never too much water,  one with the curtain.
Daniel: very satisfying to have the time to go through many different states and see other people go through many states, dances evolve. Things that built up, people standing and watching, and that became a thing
Heather: walking into the room and I had a strong sense of nostalgia and I had to work through that for the first part, just to be here with the loveliness of now. I had my list of people I had to dance with, I had to let go of that craving, this is it! My 4 hours AAAAhh it was better than nostalgia—it was real!
Holly: I was really aware of this group of people with whom I’ve have varying levels of experience—some I’ve danced with and known for years, others very little—it created another texture, dancing also with people I didn’t know—in Boulder and Buffalo.
Alison: at one point I was spinning next to the curtain, it was cool, physics is surprising, and lots of people were walking and then they weren’t, they were all quiet
Noah: my first experience with scheduled/organized contact, it was very challenging physically and emotionally to stay engaged in magical or mundane.  The talk yesterday helped be prepared for anything. This was Really fun.
Laura: I thought this would be a class but it became [a different kind of learning] and YAY, I did a supported handstand flip!
Ingrid: I loved the musical accompaniment. I loved it. My car was taken this morning and then returned. I came into the Underscore with a big knot in my chest. The first dance untied my knot
Matthew: I came in feeling the Gap big time and some experiences gave me a reframe for that—sometimes bringing me out of the gap and sometimes following me down the rabbit hole
Clare: I felt like a star in a movie with everyone—largely the music felt really cool…a summer block buster –
Hope: I was able to let go of a lot of fear, largely that when I dance with someone I can really just be myself, not expect anything of myself. I was paralyzed to take your class at Bates, so it feels really freeing to have this catharsis, to feel liberated.
Kate: I was worried, can I keep up? Nancy said “don’t worry!” and it almost immediately dissolved, it was lovely
Alysha: having a conversation with an untrained dancer about connection, they wished they could have that connection with people that dancers have. during the jam I was trying to figure that out—I don’t know your background but I didn’t feel that I couldn’t have connections with certain people or not. Realizing that anyone can connect with anyone with a willingness, hopefully I can convince my friend.
Carly: really beautiful things being said. I usually enter a jam setting with a thousand butterflies, having lots of ambitions, that I have to perform a certain way to grow… I’m not sure if it’s fatigue or growth from this week but I didn’t enter the space that way but I entered completely present today
Nicole: I just wanted to point to a moment when three quarters of the way inside of it something was really together in the whole room, we were all in some energy that was vibrant and beautiful, very powerful feeling to come together and be ready to accept and live through that.  I love this space where we can just be and it’s as if the dance continues outside of this room
Debby: just joyful blessed play being immersed in an ocean…something bigger than myself and it was effortless to be a part of that
Jija: I felt dizzy; I’m getting into gardening and nature a lot and came to Chicago yesterday and couldn’t digest it all, fear of the space and dance floor, so it felt really weird. It reminds me when I started to contact, it was dizzy but really good stuff. Message of life
Rek: during the small dance I felt really strongly pressed between the two walls of Buffalo and Boulder…changed my small dance bc of the two directions of energy coming towards me. I think I take more risks during an underscore, something about having this container that I’m not aware of them being risks but it feels a lot bolder
Tihana: I noticed the timing of the score was helpful in having a completely different experience of the jam than normal. Usually so conscious of decisions that it shuts down some other things, the underscore was taking care of everything. Felt kind of like in a different state than usual, loved the gaps when they happened, different experience with them than usual, experience them differently
Travis: felt and appreciated the global connection and dance community
Chantelle: so many wonderful friends, not enough time to dance with everyone, still feel new to contact. But what struck me was the sense of belonging with the community, once you really feel like you belong you can really be yourself that really frees you to be yourself in other communities. I found it I’m here I’m more than I was before and now I can take that elsewhere and I’m grateful.
Nancy: a last thought.  We’ve been into James Carce’s book: Finite and Infinite Games  relative to what we do and thinking of it as an infinite game…where the point is to keep playing and to want to keep playing, finding when it works and when it doesn’t. there’s a way in which you have to bring yourself to the dance, there’s effort and payoff. Thank you for making the effort to come and dance and lose and find; it’s a pleasure to be able to do that with you all. Let’s get up and circulate and reverse the flow [by facing Boulder].
From Brandin Steffenson to Nancy in an email next day:
We had an amazing Global Underscore in Williamsburg [Brooklyn, NY].  Enthusiastically attended and the dancing was rich and playful and all accompanied by the traffic from the expressway running parallel to the diagonal wall outside the window (skinesphere to the sounds of combustion engines buzzing by at 60 miles per hour somehow underscores the notion that City Life Wellness is a haven of beauty in our industrial world).
Interesting practical harvest points came up in discussion the following week with Jesse, Nancy, Dey, and Brandin. Aspects of the structure that could be tweaked. Questions about stretching the form in certain ways (or not). Perhaps we’ll post them later on. If anyone has questions, conundrums, suggestions, issues about the Global Underscore practice that you’d like to share, please do! [NSS]