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How to Become a Choreographer

Choreography is an art that involves designing original dances and interpreting the existing ones. Choreographers work to instruct dancers and other performers with the objective of transforming them into the finished performance. If you are passionate about visual arts and love training people, this career could be for you.

What do Choreographers do?

As a choreographer, you duties could include;

  • Designing new dances and providing ideas for existing dances
  • Auditioning dancers for roles in various dance projects
  • Teaching dancers to execute complex dance moves
  • Selecting music that blends well with specific dance routines
  • Assisting with lighting, costumer design and other relevant aspects

Choreographers who run their own companies have additional administrative tasks, such as hiring staff, applying for funding and finding clients.

Although most choreographers have a superior mastery of several dance styles, they often specialize in one or two. Examples of popular styles of dance include;

  • Tango
  • Non-western, such as Kizomba
  • Classical ballet
  • Jazz dance
  • Ballroom

Work Environment

Choreographers spend most of their time in rehearsal rooms and dance studios. They typically work from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, they can work late into the evening and during weekends when there are tight deadlines to be met.

Experienced choreographers with numerous clients may travel a lot, possibly including abroad.


The amount of money choreographers make varies widely depending on whether they work full-time or part-time. According to figures published by the Independent Theatre Council, an organization that negotiates minimum pay rates for its members, choreographers earned a monthly wage of £1,735 in 2014. From this data, we can estimate average annual wages for choreographers.

Job Level

Average Annual Salary

Beginning choreographers

£20,000 - £30,000

Well-known choreographers

£40,000 plus

 Education and Training

To set your foot in this profession, you need to be an experienced dancer with excellent training techniques. It is for this reason that most choreographers begins as professional dancers and rise to chorography after securing professional qualifications.

As such, you can begin by pursuing certificates and diplomas in schools such as the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance. Check with the Council for Dance Education and Training to learn more about schools that offer accredited dance programs.

Several universities also offer degree programs in choreography. Popular institutions include;

As a newly-qualified choreographer, you will work under an experienced choreographer as you develop the essential job skills.

Skills, Abilities and Competencies

  • Knowledge of human anatomy
  • Well-developed dancing skills
  • Creative skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Excellent teaching and communication skills
  • Concentration and stamina

Career Development

In choreography, a strong work portfolio is a key career progression tool. Therefore, you should put effort in designing creative dance moves and producing quality finished performances.

Attending dance workshops, building professional network through Dance UK’s National Choreographers Forum and pursuing graduate degrees in dance and choreography are also suitable ways of advancing your career.

Employment Opportunities

Freelance choreographers work on fixed-term contracts. However, if you choose to look for full-time employment, focus on the following employers;

  • Dance companies
  • Theaters
  • Film production firms
  • Dance schools

With a graduate or doctoral degree in dance and choreography, you can secure a faculty job in a university.


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