Choreographers create and plan dance routines or sequences for dancers or performers.

What does a choreographer do?

Choreographers create dance routines and movement sequences for dancers and other performers. You can choreograph stage, TV or film performances, music videos, and even fashion shows or corporate events. You may also act as a movement coach for actors.

You normally specialise in a particular dance style, for example:

  • classical ballet
  • modern dance
  • jazz dance and musical theatre
  • ballroom
  • non-western (such as Indian or African)
  • disability dance

Depending on your job role, you could:

  • develop ideas and turn them into a finished performance
  • plan movements to fit the music
  • work with producers, costume designers, and musical and artistic directors
  • choose music for your pieces
  • audition dancers
  • teach and rehearse the dancers
  • record the steps using a notation system, such as Labanotation or Benesh

You may also spend time marketing yourself, finding new work and dealing with your own tax and accounts. Running your own dance company can involve hiring staff and doing administrative tasks, such as applying for funding.

What do I need to do to become a choreographer?

You’ll need a high level of dancing ability and good teaching and communication skills. Patience, stamina and concentration will help you to work with a range of people and support them to learn new dance skills.

Most choreographers start as professional dancers and combine this with choreographing, especially in smaller companies.

Many dancers start training at a very early age, often taking graded exams and moving on to a vocational dance school to take a three-year degree/diploma, or one-year postgraduate diploma in professional dance or musical theatre.

Several universities and specialist providers also offer degrees in dance, and some courses specialise in choreography – contact them for exact entry requirements.

As an experienced dancer, you can often become an assistant choreographer after being a dance captain, someone who leads and rehearses other dancers but does not create the steps. You may also find work experience with an established choreographer.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Patience
  • Physical fitness
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • Degree in dance

Vocational route

  • Degree/diploma from a vocational dance school

Related subjects

  • Drama, music, and performing arts

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You’ll mainly work in dance studios and rehearsal rooms, but also in theatres, film and TV studios, nightclubs and holiday centres. You may be working on projects that involve travel.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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