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UK branch of Intimacy Directors International set up to safeguard actors during sex scenes

Claire Warden, ITI co-founder, and intimacy assistant Zev Steinrock demonstrating intimacy choreography Claire Warden, ITI co-founder, and intimacy assistant Zev Steinrock demonstrating intimacy choreography
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An American organisation dedicated to training intimacy directors for the entertainment industry has established a UK branch, announcing plans for the first UK-based training courses in choreographing sexual scenes on stage and screen.

Intimacy Directors International, which up until now has worked only in the US and Canada, has created a UK arm of its operation to expand the development of intimacy directors for theatre, TV and film.

Intimacy directors are trained individuals who work as part of the rehearsal process to promote best practice around intimate scenes, which include sex or nudity. Their role is to ensure that the choreography of those scenes can accurately tell the characters’ stories “while respecting the physical and psychological safety” of the actors involved.

UK-based work in this area has previously been carried out by a group called Theatrical Intimacy, which has merged with IDI to create the new UK branch of its organisation.

IDI has now announced plans to host the first intensive training in intimacy choreography in the UK later this year. It will be open to anyone interested in attaining professional training in this area, and could include movement directors, fight directors and choreographers, as well as actors and directors.

Intimacy director Yarit Dor, co-founder of the UK branch, said the #MeToo movement had “sparked a massive change in perception” around intimacy on stage and screen, as evidenced by US TV network HBO’s appointment of a dedicated intimacy coordinator and intimacy directors being used on Broadway.

She told The Stage she hoped the creation of IDI-UK would support a similar development in the UK.

“There is definitely a shift in the industry, however movement and fight directors and choreographers already have to deal with supporting intimacy in the rehearsal room so this is an opportunity to develop that,” she said.

Alongside the first UK training courses, IDI-UK has proposed new intimacy guidelines to Equity, which are currently being reviewed. It has also teamed up with organisations including Houselights, which teaches drama school students about tackling harassment, and Hera Opera Company, which ran the first workshop on intimacy for opera singers.

Dor said much of IDI-UK’s work would be focusing on empowering individuals to address any issues around intimate scenes during jobs.

“[We want them to] understand that when they say that something is uncomfortable or they have a request, it’s not a bad thing. It’s the opposite. Sometimes they need to make that request because the production company hasn’t even thought about it, maybe not in a bad way, it just hasn’t been in their mindset. You’re helping the process to be much more collaborative and safe,” she said.

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