“No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.” - Anna Pavlova
Technically, you don’t need any qualifications to become a choreographer. That said, you do need to know a lot about dancing, create excellent routines, and break into the field. If you want to choreograph ballet performances, for example, you’ll want to start as young as possible. For other styles of dance, you might be able to teach yourself.
In either case, let’s see what kinds of qualifications you can get.
Studying Dance While You’re Still at School
You can study dance from a very young age. It’s very easy to start learning how to dance from a very young age. Throughout your life, you can study dance in many places including dance schools, conservatoires, dance academies, gyms, leisure centres, community centres, etc.
That said, dance classes aren’t commonly offered at schools and most dancers may have to study for their qualifications outside of their school or take their exams elsewhere. Usually, your dance teacher will know how you can enrol or register to take certain exams and where you'll need to go for your assessments.
You can get dance lessons as early as primary school and finish your schooling with a GCSE in dance. As we said, most students won’t be offered dance lessons at their school. This is often something you need to do as part of your extracurricular activities.
Aspiring dancers and choreographers will have to work a lot to get the skills necessary for working in dance companies or schools. This usually means starting young and it's a good idea to learn how to become a dancer first.
While not every dancer is a choreographer, choreographers all need a profound understanding of dancing, the skills and techniques involved, and how to create routines from them. There are a few different exam boards out there, but we've used AQA as an example to give you a better idea of the content of the courses.
The Dance GCSE assesses students on performance, choreography, and dance appreciation. As you can guess, performance assesses how they can dance both on their own and in a group of two or three.
For the choreography, the student will be tested on their ability to create routines for individuals or groups of dancers. They'll also be tested on their knowledge and understanding of choreography and performances.
A Level Dance
Once you’ve finished compulsory schooling, you can still gain dance qualifications. An A Level in dance is one such qualification. Again, this will probably be something that you have to sign up for outside of your school or sixth form. However, larger colleges may offer it.
Again, we've taken the AQA exam board as our example, so different A Levels may include slightly different content and exams, but this should still give you a good idea.
Much like the GCSE in dance, A Level dance also assesses performance and choreography as well as critical engagement. Aspiring dancers and choreographers will have their performance and choreography assessed as a solo performance, a quartet, and a group choreography.
There's also a bigger component of critical engagement with dance, performance, and choreography. Students have a written exam that accounts for half of the qualification.
BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts
A BTEC Level 3 in performing arts is the same level as an A Level and counts for three A Levels. Aspiring dancers who'd like to fully focus on performing arts, dance, or choreography might want to consider this rather than A Level courses, especially if they prefer a more vocational experience when learning.
Generally, sixth forms focus on A Levels while colleges other both A Levels and BTEC qualifications. If you're interested in learning more about performing arts through a BTEC, you'll probably have to look to colleges and performing arts colleges.
If you've already decided that performing arts is all you want to do, then fully committing to it with a BTEC may be the right choice for your career after you've finished your GCSE.
The natural continuation for any student interested in a career in dance or choreography after school is a degree in dance. Like with any other degree, you can get a degree in dance from a university.
Like with other arts qualifications, those with a degree in dance end up in what is known as a "portfolio career". This means that you'll often be shifting between jobs and projects once you graduate and will find work through your portfolio rather than a CV.
While degrees in dance are often offered in universities along with degrees in performing arts, some schools exist solely to teach the performing arts; conservatoires.
Study Dance at a Conservatoire
Conservatoires offer higher education in music, drama, screen, production, and dance. For those looking to focus fully on the performing arts, these are dedicated establishments and are often reserved for the best of the best. Generally, if you're interested in careers in dance, choreography, or top-level performing arts and have an opportunity to study at a conservatoire, you grab it with both hands.
However, conservatoires in the UK function very similarly to universities, so if you're looking to apply to them, you can do so through UCAS. Of course, the application process for conservatoires is usually more stringent and is very likely to include an audition.
If you look at university league tables for the arts, drama, performing arts, or music, you'll see that conservatoires usually occupy all the top spots.
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.
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!
The platform that connects tutors and students