Steve Paxton

  • Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith, 1980. Photo: Stephen Petegorsky.
    passages May 13, 2020

    Nancy Stark Smith (1952–2020)

    NANCY STARK SMITH: You have gone. I didn’t think it would end like this.

    But this isn’t about you—it’s about me. I’m all I have left of you. For forty-eight years I depended on you for my supply of Nancyness, accepting your various Nancy elements perhaps too casually; perhaps I didn’t realize how unique, how precious the supply of Nancyness was. Yes, just a personnel flavor in my world, some more Nancyness comes my way, and now, too late, I think, “But for you, where would I get any?”

    The world is large, and statistically there are people more or less like you. Some more, some less. But realistically,

  • Steve Paxton

    AT THE AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL in the summer of 1958, I studied with Merce Cunningham. I was on a scholarship, and worked as a stagehand for the many performances. Cunningham’s classes were stimulating, employing balletic principles of extension that spiraled into new shapes; it seemed expanded and precise. The appeal of the work for me was in the undeniable beauty of the dancing and the dances; but the confrontation of the composition methods employing chance and of the combination of music by John Cage and scenography by Robert Rauschenberg provoked an aesthetic crisis for me. This is probably