What Does a Choreographer Do?

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A choreographer is a professional who creates dance routines for productions or performances. While choreography requires a deep knowledge of dance and physical movement, a choreographer must also have an acute understanding of how to blend that movement with music.

We sat down with Cassandra Palummo, a lifelong dancer and choreographer with 10+ years experience, to learn a little bit more about the job.

We know what a choreographer does by definition, but how do you explain choreography?

A choreographer listens to a piece of music and tries to understand the feeling the music creates. From there, they will use dance to create movement and shapes that convey that feeling.

Choreography is really just the process of having a vision come to life in a tangible way. Have you ever listened to a song that made you feel happy, sad, or excited? A choreographer’s job is to take that song and convey it’s feeling through dance.

Choreography seems broad. Are there specific types of choreographer jobs?

Definitely! From an employment standpoint, you can find jobs that focus on competitive dancing, working with studios, nonprofits, colleges, or in the entertainment industry. Within entertainment, you can become a choreographer for movies, plays, commercials, music videos, and more.

Typically, you’re teaching choreography to a group of dancers, but the specific job will inform how many people you’re teaching at a time.

What does it take to be a choreographer?

Definitely, but being a choreographer requires so much more than just being able to dance well. Because you’re dealing with groups of people, you need to have strong team leadership skills and the ability to make executive decisions. You also need to have extremely clear communication in order to teach your dancers exactly what you’re envisioning.

What is a choreographer’s salary?

Because choreography jobs are on a per-project basis, most jobs are paid hourly. Similar to freelancing, you have to know your worth and ensure you’re setting the right rate for yourself. One of the best ways to add legitimacy to your hourly rate is by networking and marketing yourself! Having a site, Facebook, or Instagram page that has videos showcasing your work has become extremely important – think of it as a visual resume!

Once you feel confident with your skills as a choreographer, start searching for your next job!

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