Nancy Stark Smith began developing the Underscore in the early nineties. The score observes states that occur in the practice of Contact Improvisation and improvisational dance practices and follows the stages of arrival, development, and resolution that naturally tend to occur at Contact Improv Jams as well as other improvisational contexts, hence the name suggests the underpinnings of our practice. After the initial "Pow-wow" of verbal check-ins, the score is done without speaking until the "Thanksgiving" time of sharing reflections of individual experience.
A Global Underscore was initiated about seven years ago and has been practiced annually on the summer solstice. In this structure CI groups from all over the world meet to hold simultaneous Underscore practices - connecting our explorative research and our growing community.
Nancy has created symbols and names to describe each stage of the Underscore. The research continues with each practice, and so these symbols reflect an ongoing imperfect representation which has many more subtleties and variations that can be found in the doing. Nancy is now in the process of writing about the underscore. Look for a link here soon which will take you to her writing that she plans to have available on her site.
Here's a link to Teacher/Performer Malcolm Manning's story of his "Personal History with Nancy's Underscore":