A choreographer


Choreographers create sequences of movements in which motion, form or both are specified. Some choreographers also take up the role of coordinating, teaching and rehearsing performers in the production of the choreography. They can also act as a movement coach for actors.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to choreographer:

martial arts choreographer
theatre choreographer
tap ballet dancer choreographer
movement director
aerial choreographer
aquatic choreographer
fight choreographer
contemporary dance choreographer
movement director & choreographer
dance choreographer
circus choreographer
choreographer & movement director
ballet choreographer
dance notation specialist
choreographer assistant

Working conditions

Choreographers may work in dance studios, theaters, or other performance venues. The role involves irregular hours, especially during intensive rehearsal periods and production timelines. Choreographers often collaborate with dance companies, theater productions, or individual performers.

Here are some typical duties of choreographers:

  • Develop creative concepts and ideas for dance performances, considering themes, narratives, or emotions to be conveyed through movement.
  • Choose music that complements the choreographic vision, and collaborate with composers or musicians if necessary.
  • Create original dance movements and sequences that align with the artistic vision, taking into account the technical abilities and strengths of the dancers.
  • Direct and lead dance rehearsals, guiding dancers through the learning and refinement of choreography.
  • Work collaboratively with costume designers, lighting designers, and set designers to ensure a cohesive and visually impactful performance.
  • Modify choreography as needed, considering feedback from dancers, artistic directors, or technical limitations.
  • Teach dance routines to performers, ensuring precision, synchronicity, and artistic expression.
  • Establish effective communication with dancers, fostering a collaborative and creative atmosphere during the rehearsal process.
  • Conduct auditions to select dancers for specific performances, considering the required skills and artistic vision.
  • Manage budgets related to costumes, props, and other production elements associated with the choreography.
  • Document choreography through notation, video recordings, or written descriptions for archival and educational purposes.

Minimum qualifications

To become a choreographer, a strong background in dance and movement is essential. Many choreographers hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dance or a related field. Practical experience gained through years of training, dance performances, and choreographic endeavors contributes to the development of expertise. Continuous learning, staying updated on dance trends, and actively participating in the dance community enhance the artistic and professional growth of choreographers. Many choreographers begin their careers as professional dancers before transitioning into choreography, bringing a deep understanding of the dance world to their creative process.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Choreographer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Choreographer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to choreographer.

dance répétiteur
conceptual artist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of choreographer.

  • Labour legislation: Legislation, on a national or international level, that governs labour conditions in various fields between labour parties such as the government, employees, employers, and trade unions.
  • Intellectual property law: The regulations governing the rights protecting products of the intellect from unlawful infringement.
  • Art-historical values: The historical and artistic values implied in examples of one’s branch of art.
  • Be in touch with your body: The key aspects of applied anatomy, psychology, nutrition, physiology, and psychosocial studies and how they relate to the self-awareness of one’s body. 

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of choreographer.

  • Design flying movements: Design flying movements for artists in a live performance.
  • Ensure longevity of choreography: Update a work for a remount or transpose the work from one location to another. Ensure that a video recording is made, that the integrity of the work is respected and that elements associated with the work are preserved.
  • Assemble an artistic team: Bring together an artistic team, after identifying the needs, looking for candidates, conducting interviews and aligning on the conditions of the project.
  • Monitor art scene developments: Monitor artistic events, trends, and other developments. Read recent art publications in order to develop ideas and to keep in touch with relevant art world activities.
  • Develop artistic research framework: Develop a framework for investigation on artistic issues.
  • Maintain safe working conditions in performing arts: Verify the technical aspects of your workspace, costumes, props, etc. Eliminate potential hazards in your workspace or performance. Intervene actively in cases of accidents or illness.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Rehearse artist fly movements: Help the artist rehearse their flying movements using the appropriate equipment.
  • Develop a choreographic language: Develop movements by defining physical research parameters and use improvisational skills. Ensure that dancers and performers fully understand the selected choreographic elements and make full use of unique qualities of each performer. Develop a vocabulary based on instructions and the use of codified movements. Create a vocabulary based on a gestual signature, based on improvisations, based on creative parameters and production constraints.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Define artistic approach: Define your own artistic approach by analysing your previous work and your expertise, identifying the components of your creative signature, and starting from these explorations to describe your artistic vision.
  • Work with broad variety of personalities: Be flexible and work with a broad mix of personalities.
  • Train artists in flying: Train artists in operating fly harnesses and flying systems by rehearsing fly movements.
  • Manage artistic career: Present yourself and your artistic approach. Position your work in target markets. Promote and market yourself and your oeuvre.
  • Develop a choreographic work: Draw on your imagination to develop new choreographic work. Identify one or several key ideas and develop them. Generate artistic content and create movement sequences. Orchestrate the components of the work and finalise it.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of choreographer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Select music for performance: Select pieces of music for a live performance. Consider factors such as ensemble abilities, availability of scores and the need for musical variety.
  • Work in an international environment: Guide your career to an international level which often requires the ability to interact, relate and communicate with individuals from different cultures.
  • Inspire enthusiasm for dance: Encourage and enable people, especially children, to become involved in dance and to understand and appreciate it, either privately or in public contexts.
  • Analyse score: Analysing the score, form, themes and structure of a piece of music.
  • Manage artistic project: Manage an artistic project. Determine project needs. Establish partnerships. Manage the budget, schedule, contractual agreements and assess the project.
  • Demonstrate technical expertise of your dance style: Demonstrate, describe or correct movement with your participants to enable them learn about their body and the dance style one is delivering in the participants. Compose and structure dance with the participants in the chosen dance style. Communicate the creative and compositional skills and experience and their relevance to the target market.
  • Read dance scores: Read and note dance scores (if the choreography is notated or is reconstructed from a historical approach).
  • Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
  • Demonstrate specialisation in a dance tradition: Demonstrate an embodied understanding of dance and dance-making, and an informed artistic viewpoint of your chosen dance style, that enables you to reconstruct or create a choreographic work fully immersed in your selected dance tradition.
  • Teach dance: Instruct students in the theory and practice of dance, recreationally or with the aim of assisting them in pursuing a future career in this field. Deliver correcting instructions that support difference and pay attention to ethical codes of conduct around touch, personal space, and appropriate pedagogic methods as a tool to foster participants.
  • Notate different dances: Use dance noting techniques to notate different forms of dance.

ISCO group and title

2653 – Dancers and choreographers

  1. Choreographer – ESCO
  2. What does a choreographer do? – CareerExplorer
  3. Featured image: Photo by Michael Zittel
Last updated on January 11, 2024