This is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation.
Theatre is an art that cannot exist without intimacy – and that word has a whole spectrum of life that goes beyond just physical touch between two people. With the development of intimacy direction, actors and creators are not only given more room to explore, but an intimacy director can help tell a story in a way that maybe they had never even considered outside the very obvious route.
In the South Florida theatre 2022-2023 season, every theatre company from deep Miami up to Jupiter, is working on a play or musical that calls for intimacy – and halfway through the season, most of them haven’t incorporated an intimacy director/intimacy choreographer into the process, and that’s a problem.
NICOLE PERRY WORKING WITH ACTORS
Now with that in mind, there are probably a few questions rattling around in your minds right now, and thanks to Nicole Perry, intimacy choreographer, here are some answers;
Why would someone hire an Intimacy Choreographer?
ANSWER: There are lots of reasons. The type of scenes, concern for performer safety, legal protections, and others. But my favorite reason to go to work is: “because it makes the story-telling better!” When performers are confident, they are able to do their best work. By letting them know that their safety is is a priority and providing clarity for movements, and how those movements tell a story, performers can focus on their job- telling a story people can connect with.
Also, Intimacy Choreographers are movement specialists. I am trained in the ways bodies tell stories. Working with an Intimacy Choreographer can make scenes more dynamic, diverse, and again, tell a better, clearer story.
What is the difference between an Intimacy Director, Intimacy Coordinator, Intimacy Choreographer, and Intimacy Professional?
ANSWER: An Intimacy Director is for LIVE performance: theatre, dance, opera, etc. An Intimacy Coordinator is for RECORDED performance: film, tv, etc. Intimacy Choreographer and Intimacy Professionals can be either/or, both/and. I choose Intimacy Choreographer, as I am a movement specialist and feel that highlights my movement background. I am a certified Intimacy Director and a cerified Intimacy Coordinator.
What types of scenes does an Intimacy Choreographer work on?
ANSWER: If performers and/or their characters are in a state of vulnerability, physically or emotionally, extra support can be helpful. And also if there are specific movement requirements.
Here are some examples of scenes that could be supported with an Intimacy Choreographer, that are not the obvious sex scenes! :
grieving siblings at a graveside
someone having a flashback to an abusive relationship
someone struggling with a form of self-harm
a first kiss
stylized or period-specific intimacy
These are just a few questions that she answers that can be further explored by going to this link;
There have been productions this season that could have benefited from intimacy direction, not only for the production as a whole, but for the actors doing the work. Without this kind of work, actors probably feel unsafe, or unsure, and you would never know – because the truth is, why would they ever tell you?
To say, “this makes me uncomfortable”, might not seem like a big deal, but to an actor it might be what stands between them and landing the next job – at least that is what they might believe. This stems from power dynamics and not wanting to come off as, “uncooperative”, or “difficult” – and intimacy choreography work with a certified professional eliminates this possibility because it is no longer in the actor or director’s hand. No actor wanting to work will say “no” to being shirtless, or in any state of undress because of the innate power dynamic that exists within every single production process. All this means is that something needs to be done, so that fear and decision cannot have the space to live in the same way.
This has all been a conversation that has been had again and again and again, and most recently discussed between Gaby Tortoledo, Nicole Perry, and me because, something needs to change, and this kind of work must be normalized.
NICOLE PERRY and GABY TORTOLEDO