Photo of Nancy Topf courtesy of Jon Gibson's archives
Nancy Topf (b.1942) studied Dalcroze Eurythmics as a child, at the Martha Graham School as a teen, with Margaret H'Doubler in the dance program at the University of Wisconsin. As a young professional dancer Topf studied at the Merce Cunningham School. It was teaching a Cunningham technique class at the University of Illinois in 1968 where she met Marsha Paludan, John Rolland, and Mary Fulkerson. The four were drawn to investigate the possibilities of imagery as an avenue to develop their dancing. Each studied ideokinesis independently with Barbara Clark, a student of Mabel Todd's, work that profoundly influenced their development of Anatomical Release Technique. Topf, Rolland and Paludan created the Vermont Movement Workshop (1972-1985), which became a teaching laboratory for their ideas. Later, Topf developed her own approach to Anatomical Release Technique, which she
called Topf Technique and Dynamic Anatomy, ISMETA (the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association) certified programs. Besides teaching in the U.S. at such schools as the Laban-Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies and Movement Research in New York City, Topf taught at the Dartington College in England, The School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico, in Geneva and in Stockholm. She also choreographed and performed, sometimes with her husband, Jon Gibson, a composer and multi-instrumentalist. At the time of her death in 1998 in an airliner crash, Topf had just completed the first draft of an introduction to Topf Technique called The Anatomy of Center, as yet to be published.