What Is An Intimacy Choreography & What You Can Learn From One

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intimacy choreographer

Sex and intimacy is awkward. It's supposed to be.

Tonia Sina is an intimacy choreographer. The instructor, from Oklahoma City, is hired by directors who need to make sex scenes (or even simply sexual scenes) more comfortable for the people performing them and the people watching them. 

As the title indicates, what Tonia does is choreograph any scenes of intimacy the same way a dance choreographer would for a dance number, or a fight choreographer would for a big ol' fight scene. Only instead of dealing with the foxtrot and how to take a fake punch, Sina is teaching people how to effectively grind their pelvises against a stranger's as they mimic sex for the entertainment of an audience.

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It isn't a a terrible idea, and, it's one that according to this New York Times article will probably become more and more common in the world of stage and film. Having someone there whose job is to make sure that you feel comfortable, confident, and supported while filming or acting in sex scenes or erotic situations seems like real progress; especially in an industry where all too often women are made to feel like no one has their back when it comes to getting naked, flashing their boobs, or making out with total strangers on a set. 

An intimacy choreographer speaks to the age of consent, an age that frankly, has been a long time in coming.

When I was in college, I acted in nearly every play on campus. My anxiety disorder was untreated, and I was spending all day in the classroom and all night at the theater. I vividly remember the productions where a director, a stage manager and costumer would hem and haw about how naked they needed me to be in certain scenes or give me notes about kissing other actors that were simply, "more aggressive, more tongue," or the like. It was hard not to feel like a pile of ground beef (albeit it sexy ground beef). 

No one ever asked me if I was okay taking off my top. No one ever thought that I might need help or guidance miming how to have sex with a guy I did not know, choosing instead to yell notes from the back of a massive theater — notes that made me feel small and unsure, which are the last things you want to feel when you're acting.

The crazy thing about this is that none of it struck me as not being OK. To me, that's how sex and intimacy were: awkward, fumbling, and insecure.

While being nervous and fumbling and awkward in a sexual encounter with a partner is part of the whole experience, there is something to the relationship that could benefit from the mindset that inspired the role of an intimacy choreographer.

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be borderline insane to hire someone to come with you on dates and to keep a low profile until the time for sex was nigh. Then they would instruct you and make you look hella suave. 

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But I DO think that the message of this role is one we should all apply to our own sex lives: Don't rush blindly into doing something that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It is okay to take your time. It is okay to take breaks. It is okay to say "I'm not ready," and "I don't want this."

We need to be our OWN intimacy choreographers and by doing just that, we can make sure that we grow our sexual relationships as we grow our confidence and sense of self.