A career in choreography

by frank-stuart

What can be more rewarding than seeing your vision come to life on stage? That’s what a choreographer’s job is all about. More specifically, it’s about coordinating dance routines, which usually means being largely responsible for an artistic company’s vision. Most dance performances require a choreographer, so there are numerous dance styles you can focus on, such as ballet, contemporary, hip hop, folk, jazz and much more. A choreographer can be responsible for the dance sequences in stage musicals, movies, video clips, and dance sport competitions, among other things.

What does it take to be a choreographer?

A background in dance is obviously very important for anyone wanting to become a choreographer. Anyone who is, or has been, a professional dancer will understand what’s required to perform a choreographed routine, and how dancers respond to the types of demands put on them.

Choreographers should have a high level of dance training, not only so they can compose routines that are technically sound, but so they can demonstrate movements to their performers.

Choreographers also need to have skills that all instructors should possess. They should show leadership qualities, have the ability to teach, and the capacity to manage different egos and personalities. A choreographer has to be able to relate to individuals, but ensure everyone is working towards the same vision.

The role of a choreographer

A choreographer’s role is more varied than some may expect, but to simplify, a choreographer devises a series of dance movements to reflect and enhance the artistic director’s overall vision. That means a choreographer will have to work closely with the artistic director to ensure the dance routines fit the overall performance or style. Choreographers also need to liaise with other people, such as costume designers, make-up specialists, actors, musicians and producers. Sometimes, the choreographer is the artistic director and has the final say on all artistic decisions.

Choreographers need to come up with dance sequences, and that can involve doing research into a particular style or other aspects of the performance, in order to preserve the integrity of the sequence.

Teaching the steps of a routine is one of the most important jobs of a choreographer, and this is usually done in a dance studio. This will typically involve training performers as a group, but also doing one-on-one training, to make sure all dancers are progressing evenly. But before the movements are taught, a choreographer has to assemble the troupe. This could mean holding auditions and putting candidates through a rigorous selection process.

How to become a choreographer

Many choreographers start out as dancers, and then become involved in choreography. Often they start out assisting the head choreographer, or work in smaller dance companies, in order to get experience and launch their career.

To become a choreographer, it’s extremely valuable to have formal qualifications. The ACPE offers the Bachelor of Applied Dance, which can lead to opportunities to work in choreography, as well as a number of other dance-related vocations.

Visit the ACPE website >


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