“Dance every performance as if it were your last.” - Erik Bruhn
As a choreographer, you can either create choreography and dance routines or teach the next generation of choreographers.
Are you a choreographer or would you like to become one?
We should let you know that this is a very niche career and there aren’t plenty of choreographers out there. It can be a difficult line of work to break into. You need to be an expert in dancing, know the right people, and probably already have taught dancing in the past.
If you’d like to try anyway, here are the places you should try first.
Choreography at a Ballet Company
If you’re a ballet dancer or have experience in ballet, you might want to choreograph for a ballet company for their next Swan Lake, Nutcracker, or Giselle.
You’d work with the ballet company and the dancers. Your role would be to rework and coordinate classic ballets, modernise them, and teach the routines to the dancers along with their marks, stage presence, etc.
Not just anyone can become a choreographer for a famous ballet company. It takes years in the industry and knowing the right people.
You can find a huge list of ballet companies on Wikipedia and some ballet companies, such as the San Francisco Ballet, even offer contemporary dance.
Choreography at a Dance Company
After you’ve cut your teeth as a dancer, you might want to set up your own dance company.
This is often the case with a lot of successful dancers from contemporary to jazz. You can be the choreographer for your own company and recruit dancers to perform your routines and performances.
You can create choreography for individuals or even huge groups of dancers. You could perform in a dance school or at venues.
Depending on who you know and what you know, you could also choreograph for other dance companies around the world.
Choreography for Musicals or Shows
Choreographers can also work with musicals or musicians. Broadway and West End musicals include a lot of dancing and they need someone to choreograph and coordinate these routines.
The same is true for pop stars and other musicians who have dancers as part of their live performances. They need someone to create the choreography for these dancers and augment the musical performance. It’s a lot of work.
Choreography for Film or Television
There are dance routines in film and television that require choreography for different styles of dance. Examples include:
- Bollywood in Slumdog Millionaire.
- Hip Hop in Street Dancer.
- Ballet in Black Swan.
- Mambo in Dirty Dancing.
- Rock in Footloose.
- Disco in Saturday Night Fever.
- Cabaret in Burlesque.
- Tango in Moulin Rouge.
- Tap in La La Land.
There are plenty of examples. Even in films where dancing isn't at the centre of the plot, there are sometimes dance routines that require choreography. For any scene with dancing in film or television, you’ll see in the credits that a choreographer was hired.
Sometimes, the work of a choreographer goes beyond just the dance moves. They have to work with actors, especially those who aren’t dancers.
On TV, for example, there are even choreographers working on fiction and non-fiction productions. For dancing shows, choreographers are essential.
Shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars hire professional dancers and choreographers. In these shows, celebrities are paired with professional dancers who’ll also work with choreographers behind the scenes.
Choreography for Music Videos
More often than not, music videos will include footage of musical performances and dances. Similarly, the choreography can also help the music’s popularity like with the Macarena. Though you don’t always need to create choreography to make the video go viral.
Generally, choreographers will be brought in to create dance performances that complement the music. They’ll create a routine, teach the dancers, and direct them during their performances.
Take the music video for Chandelier by Sia. The young contemporary dancer Maddie Ziegler performed with choreography by Ryan Heffington.
Laurieann Gibson was Lady Gaga’s choreographer until 2011. She choreographed dances for music videos including Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance, Paparazzi, and Born This Way. She was replaced by Richard Jackson.
Of course, when choreographing for music videos, it helps a lot to have a foot in the music industry and know people.
Perhaps you’d like to transfer your knowledge of choreography to other aspiring choreographers. In this case, become a teacher. You can do this work while remaining a dancer and a choreographer.
There are quite a few different ways to do this:
- Work in a Conservatoire. You’ll teach students of various ages about the art of dance and choreography. You can also offer choreography workshops to help them create dance routines.
- Teach choreography in a dance school or academy. If you perform different styles of dance, you can teach classes or workshops in choreography for that style. Again, you can teach students about the art of choreography and give them the skills to create their own choreography.
- Teach choreography workshops or classes yourself. If you’re already an established choreographer, there’s no reason you can’t offer lessons and workshops to interested parties. As you can ply your trade wherever you fancy, you can also reach a larger number of students than you could if you just taught in a school or academy.
Rarely, a choreographer works full-time. More often than not, they’ll also work as a dancer, dance instructor, or a related line of work. When you do get the opportunity to make a name for yourself as a choreographer, grab it with both hands.
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 learned 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.
We recommend thinking carefully about what you want to learn, how quickly you want or need to learn it, and how much you're willing to spend on private tuition. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start searching for tutors on the Superprof website and seeing which ones fit the bill. Only arrange free lessons with the tutors that you think would be suitable as taster sessions with other tutors that don't look suitable will only be a waste of your time.
Fortunately for you, there are plenty of great tutors on our website!
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