Qualifications for a Choreographer

Some dancers become choreographers when their on-stage careers come to a close.
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Many a play, Broadway show and movie could not be completed without the work of a choreographer. These dance professionals work behind the scenes to create and coordinate the complex moves of dancers. They audition dancers for parts, choose the music, and oversee costume design, lighting and other features of shows. Becoming a choreographer requires a love of dance and strong teaching abilities. Some formal education in dance is a plus.


    Choreographers have typically learned dance for many years, perhaps since a very young age. They may have backgrounds in ballet, modern dance, hip hop and jazz. Many join dance programs while in high school and train for professional dancing careers. However, a dancer's career is relatively short because of the physical demands; a dancer may stop performing in her 30s. This is when some dancers make the transition to choreography.


    While not required, bachelor's or master's degrees in dance can enhance a choreographer's career prospects. More than 70 college and university dance programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers, such as dance or performing arts companies, may prefer hiring choreographers with solid educational foundations in both dance and choreography.


    A choreographer is highly creative, and this skill is usually developed from a young age. As a young dancer, you must interpret the music and coordinate your body into a series of fluid movements that synchronize with the music. You hone your creativity over the years by learning many styles of dance. From this acquired repertoire, you begin developing your own steps. This creativity continues as a choreographer as you develop dance moves from many styles of dance.


    You need leadership skills as a choreographer. You are responsible for selecting the right dancers, teaching them the moves for many hours and days, refining dance steps during rehearsals, and coordinating costumes, stage props and the music -- all within a certain time frame. Dancers will look to you for guidance and suggestions, or come to you with problems, such as sore feet or illnesses. As the leader, you must deal with these issues and still be ready the day of the show.

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