I N R E M E M B R A N C E
NANCY STARK SMITH
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"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."
- Nancy Stark Smith, Contact Quarterly Editor's Note, 1987
May 5, 2020
From the ephemeral to the experiential.
I write this in honor of the wondrous Nancy Stark Smith, whose life's work is a legacy that will be carried by thousands around the world. She is a force of nature, a heroine, a power house, and a dear, dear friend.
“Replace ambition with curiosity” is one of the MILLIONS of provocations Nancy Stark Smith shared with so many of us humans, and shared with me, over and over for the past 25 years I have been blessed to know her, dance with her, learn from her, collaborate with her, and be inspired by her. Moments with Nancy were always precious, filled with inspirational conversations and endless moving discoveries, honoring the ever-changing moment.
Nancy was and is a visionary, spreading seeds of inner art and compassion. She had many super powers, like the remarkable ability to engage deeply with so many people. Nancy seemed always available, consistently present and generative. Her generous spirit went beyond expectations- she literally carried 30 pounds of projects in manila folders in her heavy backpack every day.
In these last few days I have been in conversation with many whose lives she so impacted. Speaking yesterday with Jeff Bliss, he said in reflection about Nancy and her work which was so filled with curiosity and questions, not answers, "How do you help shape a form and at the same time help to keep it from being 'shaped?' You stay constantly focused on the moment as it arises and you continue that practice for 45+ years."
And lastly, a recent quote from Mike Vargas, her life partner, shares the heart of her life's work. It was shared by Nancy to many of us, always with a big, glowing smile on her face and a sharp sparkle in her eyes:
"Between the whatever and the exactly this"
Thank you, Nancy, for everything.
- Jennifer Polins
Founding Artistic Director, SCDT
Please visit and support the publication she started 45 years ago, Contact Quarterly, for inspiration and for donations.
The post by Christina Svane after Nancy passed last Friday, May 1st.
"Dear friends around the world, yesterday, May 1, 2020, our beloved Nancy Stark Smith left her wild and gentle dancing, unique, glorious, fearless body on Earth and made for home. She had been ill with ovarian cancer. Her collaborator and companion, Mike Vargas, pianist, composer and sound artist, was by her side at home in Florence, Mass. with her beloved flower garden beginning to bloom.
I never knew how she did it, but I know she held every person she ever danced with, taught, learned from, laughed, sang or shared watermelon with, in the unchanging place in her heart.
Our sweet soul sister, seen so often flying through the air, her silver braid aloft, was a bonafide bodhisattva, a visionary spreading seeds of inner art and compassion.
A la la ho! Marvellous being, how blessed we are to have been with you here. May we stay connected in the subtle spheres, and may all beings everywhere know their divine true nature!"