A Guide on How to Become a Choreographer


Choreographers are those artists who transform the dance steps into a sequence of artistic performance. They design a series of dance movements and sequences to entertain people. They translate stories, ideas, and emotions into various dance movements. A profession as a choreographer is not easy. You will have to work for long hours. A choreographer should be strong and fit as the job is physically demanding.

Ever wondered how to become a successful choreographer and make a living? To become a choreographer you should be a dancer and have a very good knowledge of dancing. Though formal education is not mandatory, some dance companies prefer applicants with a dance degree.

Remember, there is no particular age to become a choreographer. Australian singer Sia’s barnstorming single “Chandelier” has more than 2.2 billion viewers on YouTube. Chandelier’s Choreographer Ryan Heffington’s mesmerizing choreography on the barnstorming single, opened up more opportunities to him when he was 41-year-old.

Choreographer Job Description

A dance choreographer is responsible to come up with ideas and concepts for dance routines. They work in one or more areas of dance like ballet, jazz, modern, and hip hop. They choreograph for performances, competitions, or recitals. Apart from creating dance movements for the performance, they should manage the costume design and props to be used in the performance as well.

As a choreographer, you can come up with your own ideas or be inspired by a certain style of dance performance. To begin with, you must select music for a dance routine. You can then work on refining your ideas until the dance movements are perfect. The next step is to teach the dance movements you have created to a group of dancers.  In short, a dance choreographer should come up with new dance ideas, transform them into dance movements, teach them to the dancers and make sure that the dancers are not exposed to any risk of injury.

How to Become a Choreographer

To become a successful choreographer in the industry, you must possess certain skills and qualities. You must have physical strength, balance and dexterity to move your body without losing the beat.

You must be creative to express ideas and emotions through dance movements. You must have very good stamina to endure the long grueling hours of practice so that you can perform for several minutes in a row.

Strong leadership skills are required for you to teach a group of dancers on the dance routines you have created. You should have stellar interpersonal skills so that you can network within the dance community to find job opportunities.

[Also Read: A Guide on How to Become a Dance Therapist]

Steps to Become a Choreographer

Step 1: Gain Formal Dance Training

To become a choreographer, you should have a strong dance background so that you can demonstrate the steps for other dancers to follow. By getting formal training, you will be able to create and teach dance movements to other dancers. Becoming a choreographer takes years of training, and through these years you can learn a variety of techniques and dance styles.

Step 2: Receive Formal Education

Though earning a degree is not mandatory to become a choreographer, it is always an added advantage to expand your artistic skills. Some dance companies prefer to hire choreographers with bachelor’s degrees in dance. This coursework includes education in the history of dance, dance movement analysis, composition, and performance.

Step 3: Gain Experience in Choreography

Experience in any job will lead to bigger opportunities. Gain as much experience as possible. Community productions, dance recitals, and festivals give you an opportunity to demonstrate your creative and artistic skill as a choreographer. Join a professional organization like The National Association of Schools of Dance. They offer employment listings, events and educational opportunities to members.

Workplace of a Choreographer

Career opportunities for choreographers are plenty. You can work as an instructor at schools and universities, or you can choose to become a freelance wedding dance choreographer as well. You can also create dance routines for music videos and films.  You can join as a full-time employee in any of the performing arts companies and take care of their shows.

Choreographer Salary

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for dancers and choreographers in the United States is between $10.26 and $46.93 per hour as of May 2018. Choreographer salaries are dependent on various factors such as level of experience, geographic location, and training. The employment of choreographers is projected to decline by 3% from 2018 to 2028. (1)

Is this Job for You?

If you are passionate about dance and have a knack for teaching people, then becoming a choreographer is a viable career choice for you. The best way to become a choreographer is to assist other experienced and extremely talented choreographers. That way, you get a chance to work with directors, producers, and designers.