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Bob Fosse Asked Dancers to Strip Down in the '70s—But Would that Fly Today?

What is an acceptable request from a choreographer in terms of nudity? On the first day of shooting All That Jazz in the 1970s, Bob Fosse asked us men to remove everything but our jock straps and the women to remove their tops. His rationale was to shock us in order to build character, and it felt disloyal to refuse. Would this behavior be considered okay today?

—Anonymous


I sincerely doubt it. While nudity may further a choreographer's artistic vision at times, you don't need to participate if it falls outside of your comfort zone or if it's just billed as a way to "build character." What might have slipped under the radar back then is being subjected to enhanced scrutiny now as companies address sexual harassment. The American Guild of Musical Artists, The Actors Fund, Dance/USA and other groups have all been examining studio and performance practices to ensure appropriate guidelines.

Many uses of nudity in dance are not harassment, but asking dancers to participate in such a vulnerable act shouldn't be taken lightly. There needs to be an open channel of communication between a choreographer and dancers to make sure everyone feels respected and comfortable.

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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