Extending Underscore Alchemy

Vahri Mckenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘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. This article will address how the Undersc
This article will address how the Underscore was adapted for multidisciplinary use, and what happened when it was presented in a series of research workshops to a variety of artists with different creative practices. Beyond the initial research workshops of 2013, Underscore Alchemy has continued as a monthly practice throughout 2014, with the support of an Ausdance Regional Professional Development grant. This has provided further opportunities to investigate how the dance origins of the Underscore impact on the experience, and how boundaries between arts disciplines, artists’ roles and artefacts are troubled in the context of the Underscore, as practiced by non-dancers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBrolga: an Australian journal about dance
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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