Choreographers create routines and movement sequences for singers and musicians to perform.
What is the job like?
Choreographers work closely with the musicians, who might be solo artists or bands. They develop ideas into a finished performance and can greatly enhance the success of pop bands and singers.
The work involves:
- Designing visually appealing routines which fit around various constraints, including costumes, shoes, props and stage
- Fitting the movements around the music
- Building a rapport with singers, and assessing their dancing ability (or lack of it!)
- Demonstrate techniques and instruct performers, ensuring that continuity is maintained throughout each performance
- Remaining calm and composed whilst working under pressure to tight deadlines
- Working with different genres of music, including pop, reggae, dance hall, Bollywood, electronic and RnB
- Working as part of a team which could include producers, directors and costume designers
- Marketing yourself and or working with an agent to find work
How do I get into choreography?
Choreographers usually progress into this work after many years’ experience as a highly trained dancer. As well as dancing talent, imagination and creativity, they also need a suitable personality to inspire and lead singers.
Get experience of as many different types of dance as possible.
Most choreographers started dancing lessons during childhood having progressed through graded examinations, e.g. Royal Academy of Dance.
Aim to get experience of as many different types of dance as possible, such as ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, Bollywood and so on. Listen to lots of different kinds of music and start to create your own routines.
What training and qualifications do I need?
Helpful school subjects at GCSE and AS/A level include dance, drama/theatre studies and music.
Here are some of the vocational qualifications you could take at the age of 16 if you decide not to take A levels:
- BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance)
Entry with 2 GCSE (A-D) passes
- BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance)
Entry with 4 GCSE (A-C) passes. If you do well you can then progress to a degree course or vocational training.
The Council for Dance Education and Training have information on accredited professional training programmes in vocational dance, including some BA Hons degree courses. Entry requirements can vary so check with each dance school or institution, but you will always need a very high standard of dance ability. For entry to a degree course you will normally need two A levels and five GCSE (A-C) passes or equivalent qualification.
Selection procedures include an audition and often an interview.
One-year pre-vocational foundation courses in dance are also available. Full-time training can begin from the age of 16, and usually 18 for degree courses. Some specialised schools take children from the age of 10.
It is possible to study choreography as an option on some full-time dance diplomas and degrees. In addition there are also various postgraduate courses in choreography offered at dance schools and universities.
What can I earn?
Pay for people starting out as pop choreographers can be very low, and in some cases nothing. All work is freelance and choreographers might be paid per day or per project.
Very successful choreographers working with top artists can command very high fees, perhaps in the region of several hundred pounds per day.
The Theatrical Management Association/Equity daily rates for choreographers range from £79.27 to £184.25 per day.