The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Lafayette’s intimacy choreographer ensures safety in theater

Jacqueline Holloway’s first Lafayette production was 2021’s “Shakespeare’s R&J.” (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Holloway)

While a fight or kiss may only last a couple of seconds on stage, the cast and crew work dilligently to craft those scenes in a way that both looks great and is comfortable for the actors involved. On Lafayette stages, intimacy and fight choreographer Jacqueline Holloway is responsible for making those moments shine.

“The number one role of an intimacy choreographer or a fight director is safety,” Holloway said.

Holloway first got certified in stage combat and fight choreography and was later inspired to become certified in intimacy choreography.

“I found that there was a huge need for intimacy choreography, as well, because it wasn’t as controlled and there wasn’t as much care with intimacy in theater productions as there was with stage combat,” Holloway said. 

Holloway’s first Lafayette theater production was a 2021 rendition of “Shakespeare’s R&J” put on in the midst of the pandemic. Since then, she has returned to help choreograph the fight and intimacy scenes for different shows, including the 2022 production of “Head Over Heels and “The Book Club Playin March.

She was the first consistent intimacy choreographer hired by the college.

In theater, “there had historically been unsafe or harmful practices, people that didn’t really know what they were doing, actors that were put in situations and just told to simulate sex on stage with no kind of guidance,” said Mary Jo Lodge, the head of the theater department.

“As a director, it’s always an uncomfortable situation to be in, especially in a scenario at a college where you’re asking students to appear to be intimate with one another without sort of crafting carefully how those moments might appear and the consent of the parties involved,” Jo Lodge continued.

As an intimacy choreographer, Holloway must be an adept communicator to ensure that everyone in the cast and crew felt comfortable and that the scenes were choreographed in a way that was safe for the actors.

“I had never worked with the intimacy coordinator before and I also had never been intimate with someone on stage,” said Jessie Gadaleta ’26, a “Head Over Heels” cast member. “It was definitely very helpful to have someone there who really knew what they were doing and could really give us guidance.”

Gadaleta said that Holloway first played games with the cast surrounding intimacy to get the actors accustomed to asking for consent and communicating what forms of touch they are and are not comfortable with.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Xander Walther ’27, a cast member for “The Book Club Play. “I had never done a show that required an intimacy coordinator before, but getting to work with her taught me a lot about theater and the process that goes into choreographing the fight scenes and the intimate moments and how actors work together to feel comfortable doing that on stage and what goes into making them look good.” 

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