How do we respond?

by Pamela Vail


One person posts a video of about 30 seconds of improvisation. It could be done in a chair, in any small space. Might only be a hand, a foot, upper body... etc. The improviser chooses what's in the frame and what happens in those 30 seconds. Let's call this the "Call" video. Above is one Call video that you can respond to, but feel free to post a Call video in the comments, below, if you like (this is not required). Once the Call video gets posted for viewing, then others respond to that, posting clips that can be 1-60 seconds long. Each person posts 3 responses.

Before you watch the Call video, give yourself at least a brief warm-up in order to “arrive” physically and attentionally.


1. Watch the Call video, just once. As immediately as you can, without conceptualizing or planning, record some kind of response. Try to source this from a physical place.

2. Watch the Call video a second time. Again, as immediately as you can, record a response.

3. Repeat a third time: watch the Call video, record a response.

While naturally your response will differ each time because of the nature of improvisation, consider how each response is distinct. What are you choosing to respond to? What happens when we get a second and third chance to respond? How do you make different choices given the same proposition each time? This is a way to allow yourself to realize a first impulse of response, and then second and third impulses as well (of course we could respond in infinite ways). Mining possibility in how we respond.

A simple example (with multiple responses):

How are you?

  • Fine. And you?

  • so-so.

  • Going crazy!!!

  • I don't want to talk about me.

  • [silence - no response]

  • I am so freaked out but also so inspired by the way people are coming together online and also overwhelmed by all that is happening online it's so much noise and I'm already getting tired of being in front of a screen so much and....

  • Etc.

Prompt for Response:

1. Video record yourself doing 3 response videos (1-60 seconds per video). Upload the videos to Youtube or Vimeo and include the link to those videos in the comments field, below. Make sure the links are public and not password protected.


2. Written response: How did your 3 responses differ? Were they wildly different? Similar? What differed about them (quality, speed, tone, phrasing, sensation, etc.)? Can you articulate what you were responding to each time? Was it some aspect(s) of the Call video or how you were feeling—a combination? Is there anything that isn’t a response, to something?

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