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How to become a choreographer

choreographer careers

What does a choreographer do?

Choreographers create and arrange dance routines in musical productions. They assign movements and steps to music for performers and dancers across a number of areas.

They discuss with producers, artistic directors and costume designers the requirements of the performance and often assist in choosing specific dancers for certain roles and teaching these steps to the performers.

They have to plan each movement for the dancers, and ensure that they are well rehearsed. They may have to use a form of dance notation to record the movements that they want.

Choreographers may have experience with a few or all styles of dancing. These include classical or contemporary ballet, modern dance, disability dance, musical productions, ballroom dancing, social dance, and non-western dance.

 

What's the working environment like working as a choreographer?

Working hours for choreographers vary enormously. Generally they work long daytime hours practising and rehearsing with dancers. They may work on more than one production at a time and may be involved with evening performances. 

Choreographers work in various venues - theatres, film and TV studios, nightclubs, hotels, halls, cruise liners and holiday resorts. Work is mainly indoors and may be situated within a dance studio when training and teaching. Extensive travel may be involved and there may be some scope for outdoor work depending on the assignment. 

What does it take to become a choreographer?

Choreographers dedicate themselves to dance. They are usually equipped with a huge amount of experience of dance training and prior practical work as a professional dancer. 

To be a choreographer you should:

  • have a serious interest in music and movement
  • have dancing ability and experience
  • have creativity and imagination
  • have the ability to work hard, often in difficult conditions
  • be able to concentrate for long periods
  • understand anatomy, body movement and health and safety issues
  • have the ability to memorise complicated movements and roles
  • be able to record dance steps using notation
  • have patience, enthusiasm, good communication skills and an ability to work well with others.

 

Choreographer career opportunities

Many choreographers are freelance although some are employed by companies. They may work for dance companies, on productions such as operas, plays and musicals, in films or with pop groups. There may be opportunities abroad, however it's worth remembering that competition is fierce.

Dance UK maintains the Choreographers' Directory for members who are experienced freelance choreographers. This is a resource for producers seeking a choreographer.

Some choreographers supplement their work by continuing to dance or teach. Some run their own production companies.

As with most jobs in the performing arts and entertainment industry, success ultimately depends on skill and experience.

 

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Choreographer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
 

Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET)
Toynbee Hall
28 Commercial Street
London
E1 6LS
Tel: 020 7247 4030
www.cdet.org.uk

British Ballet Organisation
Woolbororough House
39 Lonsdale Road
Barnes
London
SW13 9JP
Tel: 020 8748 1241
www.bbo.org.uk

Dance UK
Battersea Arts Centre
Lavender Hill
London
SW11 5TN
Tel: 020 7228 4990
www.danceuk.org

WorkinDance
www.workindance.com

Equity
Guild House
Upper St Martin’s Lane
London
WC2H 9EG
Tel: 020 7379 6000
www.equity.org.uk

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444
www.artsadvice.com

Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900
www.skillset.org/careers


 

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Courses to help you become a choreographer