Nancy Stark Smith (1952–2020)

Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith, 1980. Photo: Stephen Petegorsky.

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, none of them have the required Nancyness. I’ll never feel again the precise me you made me be. 

But this isn’t about me—it’s about we. You know how, at a funeral, there is a realization that everything that remains is in the heads and hearts of that repository we call “the mourners”? Memories and ashes, on we go, from May 1, 2020, for life. We will meet and speak and feel together of you, residual Nancyness, all those remains. Yes, Nancy, you have gone, but obituaries are forever.

Steve Paxton is a dancer based in East Charleston, VT.

Artforum is one of several outlets hosting this remembrance.