“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” - Martha Graham
Would you like to take your ideas to the stage, share them with an audience, and help other dancers express their emotions?
Sounds like you want to become a choreographer. However, this is a pretty competitive field. You need to learn how to dance, make a name for yourself, network, and create dance routines for dance companies, films, shows, or other dancers.
Do you have the motivation it takes?
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started in choreography.
What Are the Differences Between a Dance Teacher and a Choreographer?
A dance tutor or teacher can also be a choreographer but a choreographer isn’t necessarily a dance teacher.
There are a few key differences.
- Teach dance theory.
- Transfer practical knowledge to their students.
- Teach the fundamentals of dance: moves, technique, posture, movement.
- Create dance routines for students.
- Teach a variety of levels: beginners, intermediates, advanced students, amateurs, professionals, children, adults, etc.
- Teach their students about rhythm and artistry.
- Make dancing fun and give students the skills they need to become independent learners.
- Create choreography and dance routines.
- Work mostly with semi-professional or professional dancers.
- Recruit and choose dancers for routines.
- Manage the logistics of their routine (costumes, scenery, equipment, etc.)
- Teach their choreography to professional dancers.
It’s rare that a choreographer also works as a dance tutor or teacher. However, it’s not uncommon for dance teachers to create routines. They can teach as they know a lot about dancing, but the other tasks involved in choreography mean teaching isn’t an option.
The main difference between teachers and choreographers is the people they work with. Choreographers usually work with experienced dancers or semi-professionals at the least as they need to show them the moves, techniques, and routine, not how to dance. A dance teacher is more likely to teach students how to dance and while they can teach routines, they’ll mainly be aimed at learners.
A choreographer can create routines for a variety of different dance styles: modern dance, hip hop, flamenco, tap, modern jazz, etc.
So would you rather become a dance teacher or a choreographer?
What Do You Need to Study to Become a Choreographer?
A lot of choreographers are self-taught as there are very few schools or formal qualifications that teach you how to choreograph dances. That said, you’ll need to have studied or taught yourself how to dance to become a choreographer.
There are ways for very young students to learn how to dance be it jazz, contemporary dance, or ballet. You can also get dance lessons as early as primary school and finish your schooling with a GCSE in dance. More often than not, you’ll have to study these at a dedicated dance school, music school, or conservatoire. There are plenty of them around the country and even if there isn’t one near you, you can find dance lessons and courses at gyms, leisure centres, and community centres.
You can also do AS and A Levels in dance. Again, it’s probably more likely that you’ll have to study these outside of your school, sixth form, or college. You’ll learn a bit about choreographing dance and dance routines as most dance courses include it. AS and A Level dance includes sections on choreography and translating your dance ideas into choreography. There’s also the BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts, which is a qualification equivalent to A Levels.
What can you do if you’ve never studied dance formally? Can you accredit your level in certain types of dancing?
Of course! In addition to the academic qualifications we mentioned, there are different types of accreditation out there for different styles of dance. If you work with a tutor or a dance teacher, they’ll let you know which qualifications you can complete accrediting your dancing.
Where Can You Teach Choreography?
Every choreographer is also a dancer. After all, you can’t choreograph dance routines if you don’t know anything about dancing.
There are quite a few options for choreographers,
- Choreography for ballet: The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, etc.
- Your own dance company: regardless of the style you teach, you can put together choreography to be performed on stage.
- Choreography for musicians and concerts: Do you think that Lady Gaga, Madonna, or Britney Spears create their choreography? They work with professional choreographers and experienced dancers.
- Choreography for film or television: a lot of productions get help from choreographers. This is even more common for shows about dancing like Strictly Come Dancing.
- Choreography for music videos: music videos regularly feature dancing and dancers. These routines will be devised by a choreographer.
- Teaching: You could also become a choreography teacher and show others how to create dance routines and choreography. You could offer choreography workshops and show students how to create dance routines.
Most choreographers will do more than just choreography. A choreographer will also be a dancer and a master of their discipline. It’s a very niche career so many mightn’t be able to live off just working as a choreographer.
Still interested in becoming a choreographer?
Make sure you have what it takes to become a success.
What Qualities Do You Need to Become a Good Choreographer?
Choreographers also need to be business savvy as well as artistic. A successful choreographer will need:
- Creativity to come up with different routines.
- A good eye for aesthetics.
- Curiosity and a willingness to draw upon other artistic styles.
- Leadership skills to run a team of dancers.
- Communication skills.
- Observation skills and ensure that the dancers are coordinated and safe at all times.
- Patience as creating choreography can be a long process.
- Availability and a willingness to answer their dancers’ questions and concerns.
- Management skills.
- The ability to deal with high levels of stress.
- Teaching skills to show dancers routines and choreography.
Choreography isn’t a field you can just dive into. You should now know a little bit more about choreography.
Would you like to become a choreographer?
If you're interested in choreography or dancing, consider getting private tutoring from one of the many talented and experienced tutors on Superprof. There are plenty of tutors out there who can help you in several different ways.
There are different types of tutorials available and since each comes with advantages and disadvantages, you must choose the right one for you, your level, and your budget.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most effective as they take place between one student and their tutor. This means that the tutor can tailor every session to their student and what they want to learn, which can be very useful if they want to learn a particular style of dancing or something as niche as choreography. However, as this is a bespoke service, it's often more expensive than more general lessons and tutorials.
Group tutoring is great for those on a budget as every the cost of the tutor's experience and expertise is shared amongst the students in attendance. While this means you won't get lessons that are completely tailored to you, it can be useful for those with smaller budgets who are looking to learn more about dancing or choreography without wanting to focus on a particular aspect of it.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include online private tutors. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, you can be taught by tutors anywhere in the world. As they won't be there in the room with you, their tuition won't be as hands-on as the other types of tutoring, but for learning theory and the academic aspects of dance and choreography, they can be just as effective as face-to-face tutors.
Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on the Superprof website will offer the first lesson or session for free. These sessions are useful for trying out several potential tutors before deciding which one is right for you. After all, dancing or choreography isn't learnt overnight and as you'll probably be spending a lot of time with your tutor in the long-term, you'll want to choose the right one.
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