How to Become a Choreographer

Choreography is the study of directing the art of dance. It involves both artistic and technical ability, and a thorough understanding of Dance. Historically, the best choreographers have evolved into the field of choreography from their career in Dance, much like a stage director has also been an actor, so he understands it inside and out. One of the most famous choreographers was Gillian Lynne. She was a great dancer who later became the chief choreographer in the longest running Broadway music to date: Andrew Lloyd Weber’s production of “Cats!” And to think her teachers just thought she had an attention deficit disorder!

Choreographer Requirements & Qualifications

The general requirements for being a choreographer are a desire to entertain, unending enthusiasm

$33,218
High School or GED

Long-term
25,600
18%
4,600
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
for the art of Dance and Theater, and endless energy! It requires a lot of stamina to work with dancers on regular basis, so it is not a career for the faint-hearted. You also need to study Dance and The Arts, especially courses which focus on how to put a show together. You could get a 2 or 4-year degree in Fine Arts and/or Dance or Theater. If you do not get a degree, take courses in stage and theater directing, as well.

Typical Education 

One route to starting a career in choreography is to attend a 4-year arts college with a focus on Dance, Theater, and Music. This combination would best prepare you for the various aspects of the Dance field, and teach you skills that would aid you in getting your first jobs as a dance choreographer. If this is not an option for you, take private lessons, or individual courses from a school of Dance.

An Alternate Career Route

Look for local Fine Arts schools in your area and try out for shows that require dancers to build your reputation as a dance professional. This will help pave the wave for you later, when you promote yourself as a choreographer. It is the general belief of artistic experts that you should teach what you know. In other words, if you want to be a choreographer, you must show you are a good dancer first, then that you can teach and lead others to do the same.

Steps to Becoming a Choreographer

Here are some steps you can take to becoming a choreographer. There are many other career paths you could take to do the same, but this is a good start. You can always alter your plan as you get more experience, or as opportunities are presented to you.

1) Get a degree or certification in Fine Arts, Dance, or Directing. The background you will obtain from a degree in the arts, theater, or related fields will present you as an expert in the field. Experience in theater and music directing and performance is also a valuable asset to put on a resume.

2) Build a portfolio. As with any career in the arts, it is important to show what you can do. Keep a record of your performances, as well as shows you have directed. Have someone document this on video and create a DVD of all your performances.

3) Get an agent. If you plan to try to make it big in this field, you need an agent who can connect you to bigger jobs and opportunities, and who cares as much about your success as you do. You can locate an agent in your local area, or if you live in a small town, search online for a directory of agents who can help you remotely.

4) Attend shows and connect. If you attend shows directed by others, it shows your support for their performance, and they may return the favor by attending yours. In addition, you can use this as an excellent opportunity to network with others in the field and bring more opportunities your way. Also, try to get work as a choreographer or technical advisor in local community theater shows.

5) Continue your training and work on your craft. Just like any field, it is important to stay current. Watch performances of recent shows online, and in person. Attend seminars on the art of Choreography. In addition, create your own webinar and share your ideas with the world. In this day of self-promotion via the mass media and the internet, the sky’s the limit in how far your reach will go. If you set yourself up as an expert, you may be presented with more opportunities than you ever dreamed.

Choreography is an interesting and artistic field to get into. If you have talent in dancing, theater, music, and directing, this may be the ideal career path for you. So start building your portfolio, get online, and promote yourself. But get your education first. That’s the backbone of your career and it will likely pay off in spades later. Now go for it! Roses to you!

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