written by Penny Campbell
"Don't Say 'No'" is an exercise that I think I named myself. I say this because I like to credit anyone with whom I studied and who shared particular ways of developing skill. But, I don't remember anyone teaching me this, per se. However, as I write, I'm recalling one of the first classes in improvisation that I took with Judith Dunn at Bennington College back in 1970. I was struggling to generate movement. I think I was just stringing random movements together. Who knows? I certainly had no idea what to do or what I was doing (and that lasted for years)! Judy suggested I stick with something, repeat it, and see what happened. I'm sure I followed her suggestion--I even have some slight sensory memory of the moment--but I have no idea what material emerged, if any! Years later I think I see how that early experience opened up a little territory of possibility and, after decades of practice and of teaching what I wanted to learn, "Don't Say 'No'" emerged as an exercise with a name. Read More Here >>
Note: I let you warm up for a bit, then guide you through a series of movement invention practices that I call “Scales/Parts Dances” and “On a Scale from 1-10” (which should really be . . .”0-10,” but who’s counting?). Don’t worry if you don’t hear everything the first time through. Most important is that you delve as deeply as possible into your movement material and experience. You can always go back and listen again.
Peter Schmitz, Susan Sgorbati, Penny Campbell (photo by Erik Borg)
The Don't Say "No" exercise includes an audio component where you will be led into movement by Penny Campbell:
1. Download the audio track for Don't Say "No" (you can click the yellow audio button link, above, to download all audio tracks for this website) to your phone or listening device. You can use headphones or run the audio through a speaker. It is best to download the track onto your device first and then play it.
2. Find a place that you feel comfortable moving in and play the audio track. Feel free to pause the recording at any time if it is moving too fast for you. [The duration of the score is around 35 minutes long.]
Prompt for Response:
1. Take a moment to scan back over this exploration. Any reports? What do you remember from the material that you were exploring? Movement tendencies/habits? Accidents that led into discoveries? Taking five minutes, free-write in your journal about your experience. Free-writing is stream-of-consciousness writing (writing/sketching your thoughts onto the page as they arrive in your mind).
2. Read Don't Say "No" and On a scale of 1 to 10 from Penny Campbell's writing on Performance Improvisation. In 2-3 sentences, discuss how this enhances your understanding of what you just experienced.
3. Share your writing/sketches in the comments, below. You can type the free-write or take a photo of it and upload it (especially if your writing includes drawings).