Following the Broadway World press release about my upcoming work with Measure for Measure Theatre company, I got a question about how I got into intimacy choreography. And it seemed like a really good 3rd installment to the intimacy series on this blog.
Vol 1: What is Intimacy Direction? Published in July.
Vol 2: Why do we have/need intimacy directors/choreographers? Published last week.
Vol 3: How did I get become one? Published now.
I took my first intimacy for the stage workshop from Laura Rikard of Theatrical Intimacy Education in the summer of 2018. I searched out intimacy work, not because I had had a negative experience with a scene partner, director, or choreographer. Rather, I wanted to make sure that I, as a teacher and creator, had the best practices available, to do the best job, telling the best story, in ways that served my performers and audiences, that I could!
I had recently choreographed a musical for high school students in which one student was distressed about the onstage kiss, because this student had never kissed anyone, ever. And the director didn’t set it or offer any thoughts or even seem to want to rehearse it with them. Which I do understand, as intimacy with minors is a difficult thing, complete with legal issues on top of power dynamics and teenage hormones. So as the choreographer, I set it- mainly to ease the anxiety experienced by the students.
In doing this, I thought, “It is so weird that there is no standard for doing this!” So, I started looking to see who else was experiencing this and working on these types of encounters. I found TIE and Intimacy Directors International online, and read everything they had in the free resources. Shortly thereafter, the South Florida Theatre League brought in Laura.
I went to the workshop expecting it to be packed! This was amazing, relevant work, that people in all levels of theatre, not to mention dance and opera, would benefit from. It wasn’t. I mean, there was a good group. But for a topic I thought was so important, I expected more humans to be interested.
In that first workshop, I realized how much my own choreographic and performance experiences, and particularly my work in Laban Movement Analysis supported the idea of choreographing intimacy. I also realized that this was a skill that needed more learning and practice.
So, 6 months later, I enrolled in a 3-day workshop for performers, choreographers, and directors with Tonia Sina and Alicia Rodis, 2 of the co-founders of IDI. We learned about the Pillars of the IDI Method, the history of the work, and I even got to practice choreographing.
So, a little on the history. Tonia wrote her Master’s Thesis on Intimacy for the Stage in 2004. This work is not new, nor is it reactionary to the #metoo movement. It has, however, shown its relevance and importance even more as performers are speaking out against the abuses they’ve experienced in their respective rehearsal rooms. And again, this affects not just theatre, but dance and opera as well. But, Tonia was drawn to this work because she saw a need- we choreograph dances and fights. We coach text and dialect. But what do we do to prepare, protect, and professionalize intimate encounters on stage? And she found the answer to be “nothing documented nor consistent”. So, she set out to change that.
After my 3 days with IDI, I was interested in using and pursuing intimacy choreography as part of my creative work. In order to certify with IDI, one needs to have a certain number of hours of training with them. So, my next step was to apply for their 9-Day Choreographers’ Pedagogy Intensive.
I did, and was accepted! I got to train with intimacy choreographers and directors from literally all over the world in May. We were coached by the women leading this field in theatre, from regional to Broadway, and on TV and film. At the conclusion, I felt ready to take this work back to South Florida.
Now, I’m hoping to apply for their apprenticeship program and earn my certification. I’m also going to Salt Lake City in November to work with TIE again. The two organizations have different approaches to the work, and I appreciate what each one has to offer me as a learner and a professional artist.
I’ve also been adding to my learning by taking classes and reading books on mental heath and trauma, conflict negotiation, and ethical issues surrounding touch and intimacy. This is definitely not a field that one can just learn a movement technique and call it a day.
Just this week, a press release went out on BroadwayWorld announcing me as the Intimacy Choreographer for the season at Measure for Measure Theatre here in Fort Lauderdale. I’m so excited to work with this company- they’ve shown a sincere dedication to offering relevant stories to audiences, while honoring the humanity of their artists. That they would be the first South Florida company to have an IC for a whole season fits their values!
My company, Momentum Stage, is bringing in IDI for 1-day workshops in October. Registration will open after Labor Day, so pop over to the website and subscribe to our newsletter so you are the first to be notified!
As I complete my Laban Movement Analysis certification, I’m doing my final project on Intimacy Choreography, and am excited to carve my niche in this work and in South Florida.
I am actively pursuing other contacts, and would love to work with any dance, theatre, or opera company that finds this work valuable! Contact me! As I said in last week’s post, I got into this not because I think the performing arts are full of predators. There are some. But, rather, I believe our arts organizations are full of people who want to do the right thing, and tell meaningful stories. This work, and me, are resources for them.
Thanks for reading all about intimacy! If you found it informative or helpful, please share this blog series with your co-workers, artistic leaders you know, etc. And leave me a comment! Do you still have questions about intimacy- what or why it is, my story? Leave them in the comments! I love talking about this!