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Choreographer

Choreographers design sequences of steps and movements, usually accompanied by music, for dancers and other artists to perform.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a high level of dance training and experience. Most choreographers start as professional dancers and combine this with choreography.

You can often become an assistant choreographer after being a dance captain who leads and rehearses other dancers but does not create the steps.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • advanced dancing ability
  • good teaching and communication skills
  • the ability to write down steps using notation

3. What you'll do

Choreographers create dance routines and movement sequences for dancers and other performers in a broad range of settings.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • turning ideas into steps 
  • fitting movements to music
  • working with producers, costume designers and musical directors
  • choosing music
  • auditioning and rehearsing dancers
  • recording dance steps using a notation system

If you're self employed, you'll spend time marketing yourself and dealing with your own tax and accounts. Running your own dance company can involve hiring staff and applying for funding.

4. Salary

Salaries vary depending on experience, reputation and the production you're working on. Freelance choreographers set their own rates.

Equity is the UK trade union for professional performers and it sets minimum pay for its members.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You may work long hours teaching and rehearsing during the day. You may attend evening performances. You may often work on more than one production at a time.

Much of your time will be spent in dance studios and rehearsal rooms but you may also work in theatres, film and TV studios, nightclubs and holiday centres. You may need to travel, including overseas.

6. Career path and progression

You're likely to work freelance on a fixed-term contract. You may be able to find full-time permanent opportunities with dance companies.

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Last updated: 12 April 2017