Scottish Ballet using intimacy coaches to prepare for violent and erotic scenes

It comes ahead of the premiere of the company’s production of The Scandal At Mayerling.

03 March 2022

Scotland’s national ballet company has started using intimacy coaches for its dancers to protect them during performances with sexual and emotionally-charged content.

Scottish Ballet said it believes it is the first dance company to introduce this style of coaching to safeguard its performers.

The announcement comes ahead of the premiere of the company’s production of The Scandal At Mayerling, which explores themes of sexual obsession, mental illness and drug addiction through nine intense, dramatic duets.

The production is based on a true-life “murder-suicide” in late 19th century Austria, and focuses on events leading up to the death of a prince and his teenage lover.

Christopher Hampson and dancers
Scottish Ballet artistic director Christopher Hampson said it is important dancers are equipped properly for the performance (Andy Ross/Scottish Ballet/PA)

Intimacy coaches are becoming more popular in the film and TV industry to ensure that scenes involving sex or nudity are shot in an ethical manner, preserving the comfort and safety of performers.

Scottish Ballet artistic director Christopher Hampson said: “It is important that all our dancers, rehearsal staff and stage management are fully supported as we embark on rehearsing and performing scenes which include intimacy, sex, physical and sexual violence.”

He said Rc-Annie, the organisation providing the coaching, will lead workshops including boundary setting and coaching on how to safely rehearse the scenes involving sexual content and violent exchanges.

“I believe that taking this approach will equip our dancers, and their coaches, with the relevant skills to authentically portray the characters and scenes while maintaining a safe and respectful working environment,” Mr Hampson added.

Ballet dancers
Scottish Ballet’s performance of The Scandal At Mayerling will play in Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh (PA)

“I am proud that Scottish Ballet is investing in this necessary training and look forward to how it will help us grow as we develop our repertoire for the future.”

Set in 1889, The Scandal At Mayerling tells the true story of anti-hero Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, who enjoyed the privileges of a royal lifestyle.

But with it came mistresses, alcohol and drugs in excess, and as his mental health rapidly declined, he developed a morbid fascination with death.

The “scandal” erupted when he and his teenage mistress Mary Vetsera were discovered dead in an apparent murder-suicide at the Mayerling imperial hunting lodge in the woods outside the city.

The original production, Mayerling, premiered at the Royal Ballet in 1978.

Scottish Ballet’s production of the spectacle will premiere in Glasgow in April before going on tour to Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

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