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A choreographer creates original dances and dance programmes, offering suggestions as to how the dancer should interpret and perform them.

Choreographers design and direct the dance or stylized movement in musical productions, working closely with the director and musical director. Future Growth Strong

A choreographer works with dancers to interpret and develop ideas and transform them into the finished performance. This might mean taking overall control of a production, or working under the director of an opera, play or musical.

When working with a director, the choreographer must gain a full understanding of the director's vision of the show, including style and pacing, and must be familiar with the script and music. An effective choreographer is one who supports the director's vision, so that all elements of movement and dance work as part of the larger picture. Some directors will give their choreographers a great deal of freedom for their work, but even so, the result must be part of an organic whole, supporting the story, characters, and the overall artistic intent.


As part of the production's support team, the choreographer must work closely with the musical director, costume designer, set designer and lighting designer, to make sure that all stage movement is compatible with musical cues, costuming , sets and lighting.

Choreographers in community theatre must often work with non-dancers, or dancers with limited experience, as well as those who have had considerable training. This can mean extra rehearsal time, which must be planned for. Many choreographers use team captains or assistants to work with individuals or groups within the ensemble, as a way of maximizing the amount of time available for rehearsal.

Almost all choreographers begin their careers as dancers and usually start choreographing while still performing, especially in smaller companies. Choreographers frequently absorb artistic influences from other art forms, such as theatre, the visual arts and architecture.

 As a choreographer, you would create dance routines and movement sequences for dancers and other performers. You could choreograph stage, TV or film performances, music videos, and even fashion shows or corporate events. You may also act as a movement coach for actors.

You would normally specialise in a particular style of dance, for example:

Choreographer in studio

  • classical ballet

  • modern dance

  • jazz dance and musical theatre

  • ballroom

  • non-western (such as Indian or African)

  • disability dance.

ANZSCO ID: 211112


Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • a high level of dancing ability

  • a thorough knowledge of dance and movement

  • good teaching and communication skills

  • creativity and imagination

  • patience, stamina and concentration

  • an understanding of dancers' needs

  • an understanding of health and safety issues

  • the ability to work well with others.


Duties and Tasks

You mighty create your own dance pieces, or interpret a director’s instructions. Your work could involve:

  • developing ideas and turning them into a finished performance

  • planning movements to fit the music

  • meeting producers, costume designers, and musical and artistic directors

  • choosing music

  • auditioning dancers

  • teaching and rehearsing the dancers

  • recording the steps using a notation system, such as Labanotation or Benesh.

Working conditions

If you are freelance, you would also spend time marketing yourself, finding new work and dealing with your own tax and accounts. Running your own dance company would involve auditioning dancers, hiring staff and doing administrative tasks, such as applying for funding.

Your working hours could vary greatly. Generally, you would work long daytime hours whilst teaching and rehearsing the dancers and you may also attend evening performances. You may often work on more than one production at a time.

You would mainly work in dance studios and rehearsal rooms, but also in theatres, film and TV studios, nightclubs, halls and holiday centres. There may be a lot of travel, possibly including overseas.

Education and training/entrance requirements

As a new choreographer, you would develop your skills by shadowing or assisting an experienced choreographer.

You could choose to take a postgraduate course in choreography at a professional dance school or university. These courses are aimed at dance graduates or experienced dancers who wish to further their careers.

Did You Know?

The Helpmann awards, named after Sir Robert Helpmann [ballet dancer, actor, producer, director and choreographer] recognising artistic achievement and excellence in the performing arts in Australia, were established by the Live Performance Australia in 2001.

Helpmann Awards



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