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Collaborative Movement Improv: Online Accumulation Score

This score is designed to foster paying attention to both one's own moving and to that of others. Paying attention to others through a screen adds another level of challenge to an already challenging proposition, inherent in any collaborative improvisation, of paying attention to yourself and to others at the same time. This combination of inwards and outwards attention can be key to collaborative improvisation, and especially useful in the context where online collaboration presents this additional challenge.

To prime for that, the score starts with a kind of specific challenge: participants taking turns doing brief solos. It's important to emphasize that there's nothing particular that one needs to accomplish in doing these solos besides "showing up", being willing to be seen and pay attention to how it feels (and also being brief). Conversely, those watching the solos have the opportunity to experience paying attention to someone else, while still noticing their own reactions and situation. Warming everyone's attention, and the shared presence of the group.

Here's the whole score, with a synopsis at the bottom.

  1. The score starts with all of us watching the screen in gallery view with our cameras and mics off and the video option "Hide non-video participants" activated.
  2. When someone feels ready (or tired of waiting for someone else to take the initiative), they turn on their camera and mic and position themselves to move. They take half a minute to a minute to explore and establish some sort of movement style that fits for them in the moment, and maybe another minute to explore that and then they find an ending. They then exit by returning to the screen and turning off their camera and mic.
    • So around two minutes total for each solo. (Exactness is not important, but promptness is.)
  3. Next someone else takes a solo. Same deal - explore, establish something, find an end and exit, within around two minutes.
  4. After two solos have happened we add an option for someone else to join after the person doing a solo has had time to establish something. The person joining turns on their camera and mic and starts moving in some kind of relationship with the first person. It can be similar or contrasting, whatever, as long as the person joining is paying attention to the person who is already moving. And vice versa, when someone is joined they try to notice and factor the presence of another person moving into what they're doing. It's up to each of them what that means – it's an exploration of what happens when paying attention both to others and to yourself.
  5. After a minute or two to establish some kind of movement character together, one or the other finds an end for themselves and exits, turning off their camera and mic.
    The person who remains explores the situation they find themselves in after their partner parted, for another minute or so, and then ends and deactivates.
    • Note that we "drain" the space between each stage.
  6. The facilitator will then announce that an accumulation of three people is next.
  7. The three-person accumulation builds in a similar way, with someone doing a solo, and after having had a bit of time to establish something, someone else joins them. After the two had some time to establish something a third person joins, taking part in the established situation, whatever that means to them.
    After a minute or two to explore this trio, one of the three finds an opportunity to end and exit.
    After another minute or so one of the two who are left ends and exits.
    Finally the third one remaining explores being in a solo, and after a minute to experience that they end and exit.
    • Note that the exit order does not depend on the order in which the participants entered. It's up to all involved to have a sense of when enough time has passed for someone to exit.
  8. We continue to a four person accumulation with an additional option to start gradually relaxing structure of the score.
    The aim is to continue to follow the basic score while bit-by-bit adding or taking away things. Someone might exit early, or enter beyond the current capacity (a fifth person), or enter and soon after exit. Someone might turn on their mic and participate, but not turn on their camera. The challenge is to be gradual about it, so that the shape of the score can continue for a while, while gradually stretching that shape.
    • Because there are several people involved, we ask that everyone show restraint, seeking to initially change it in only small ways – or be content to let others change, and see what happens, you don't have to always be the one.
  9. We continue, letting this unfold however it does, until an ending bell at an appointed time. (I like also having a warning signal at five minutes before the end.) We all turn on our cameras to gather for a "circle" and check-ins. This is an opportunity for all who participated to share whatever interested them about the experience, allowing time for others to share as well.

To recap:

  1. Everyone watching with videos and mics off, waiting for the first solo. (Everyone has "Hide non-video participants" active.
  2. First solo – video and mic on, a minute to explore and establish, a minute to continue and find an end and exit. Video and mic off.
  3. Second solo, same pattern.
  4. Another solo or more, with option for someone else to join after first person has established something. 
  5. Duet for a minute, then sequential exits, with time to explore being in another solo after one or the other has exited.
  6. Facilitator announces three-person accumulation next.
  7. Three person accumulation, same pattern as duet but with three people.
  8. Four-person accumulation, with option to start gradually relaxing the rules of the score.
  9. We continue with whatever happens until the ending bell (usually preceded by a five-minute warning), then check-ins.


Ken Manheimer said…
This is based on an in-person score I've practiced and enjoyed doing for years. I expect it came out of similar scores lead by others in which I've participated. I included an online description of the in-person version on a web page for the DC Movement Research of which I was a part - look for Basic Ensemble Improv Accumulation Score here.

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