Extending Underscore Alchemy
Faculty of Regional and Professional Studies
ECU South West Research Centre
‘Underscore Alchemy’ is a research project designed to investigate how artists from disciplines outside the performing arts might engage with Nancy Stark Smith’s collaborative improvisation model, the Underscore. I lecture at the South West campus of Edith Cowan University (ECU), Western Australia, which offers a BA with majors in Media, Visual Arts, and Writing and Literature. As an academic and arts practitioner with a background in performing arts as well as writing and literature, I am interested in finding ways to bring the knowledge of ‘body’ disciplines into the experience of my non-dancing arts students. ‘Underscore Alchemy’ offered one such opportunity, which was inspired by my participation in Nancy Stark Smith’s January Workshop 2013, for experienced contact improvisers to develop this practice and other related dance improvisation work. The contexts for, and application of, the Underscore proved to be a vital and, for me, the most valuable, part of that experience.