New Columbia Program offers Certification for Emerging Theatre and Television Careers

Columbia's Intimacy for Stage and Screen Certificate program provides an in-depth, year-long education in coordination, choreography, and advocacy for theatrical intimacy and performance. 

In film, television, and even theater, actors have generally been left to their own devices – or at the helm of a director – to handle scenes involving nudity or physical intimacy. In recent years, however, the industry has been met with increased demands for improved working conditions and the watchful eye of a professional to help facilitate. 

Major TV and movie networks like HBO have even made the presence of intimacy coordinators mandatory on their film sets. Since June 2022, more than 40 intimacy coordinators have been approved by SAG-AFTRA. 

This booming new profession has become essential in theatre and cinema, helping to set new industry standards for the safety of actors and performers. Much like the work of a stunt coordinator for action films, professional intimacy coordinators are there to eliminate harmful practices and improve on-camera performance. 

“Choreographing moments of intimacy in all mediums is now defined in ways that keep everyone safe,” says Susan Padveen, Associate Professor, Interim Allen and Lynn Turner Chair, and coordinator of Columbia’s new Intimacy for Stage and Screen Certificate program. “We are thrilled to be able to bring this opportunity to aspiring intimacy choreographers and coordinators.” 

The program, which is the first of its kind offered at an accredited college or university, provides an in-depth, year-long education in coordination, choreography, and advocacy for theatrical intimacy and performance. 

With this training, students working in a cohort of like-minded students will learn methods for creating excellent, high-quality choreography, tools, and techniques. Additionally, students will demonstrate knowledge and leadership so that a culture of consent becomes the norm in every production process while coordinating the logistical and administrative needs of a wide range of processes. 

“Over the past few years, we have found that the entertainment industry has changed in a very positive way to protect creatives in the processes of rehearsal, performance, and filming,” says Padveen. “Defining personal comfort with consent and boundaries is an ever-shifting reality to be negotiated day to day.” 

The Intimacy for Stage and Screen Certificate program is recommended for those who have experience in stage and screen performance: actors, directors, dancers, choreographers, and mental health professionals. This 16-credit graduate certificate provides a hands-on education and empowers artists with industry best practices for the safe, ethical, inclusive, and effective staging of intimacy, nudity, and sexual violence for both stage and screen. 

With its faculty of experienced industry professionals, Columbia is set to prepare those wanting to join one of theatre, film and TV's fastest-growing careers, and one that is soon to become a permanent fixture the entertainment industry.