What qualifications do you need to be a choreographer?
I remember researching post-secondary dance schools online when I was younger, trying to figure what I was going to do with my life. Bachelor of Arts? Dance degree? Masters in choreography? How come so few schools offer these options? Is there a practicum involved? Will this guarantee me a job?
Maneuvering the arts world can be pretty daunting. There is no right way to do anything or get anywhere. There’s only just doing what’s best for you at the time, figuring things out along the way, and trying to learn from other peoples’ experiences and yours.
What qualifications do you need to be a choreographer? Technically, NONE!
There is no governing body watching all the choreographers in the country, making sure they all have the proper training to certify them as a CC – Certified Choreographer. That would be a pretty cool thing to say though: “I’m Heather: Certified Choreographer.”
But that doesn’t exist. Anybody can be a choreographer, just like anybody can be a writer or a painter.
So what do you need to become a choreographer?
Dance training or experience.
I would suggest getting some dance training before you jump into choreographing dance. It’s sort of like learning the alphabet before you learn to read. One just goes before the other.
An understanding of rhythm and music.
Unless you’re choreographing movement to silence (which can happen, but not all the time), you’re going to need to understand how music works. Fortunately, humans are naturally musical creatures! If you can tap the beat to your favourite song, you already have a basic understanding of rhythm. The more musical knowledge you have, the more interesting and intricate choreography you can create.
If you want more than just yourself in your piece, you’ll need to be able to communicate to your dancers what you want them to do. You need to teach the steps, the quality of the movement, and the timing. If you can’t communicate those things, you’re going to have dancers that are all doing different things at different times in different ways.
Choreography is an art! You need to have passion for it in order to create great choreography. Without passion, your piece is going to lack spirit (Artsy-fartsy advice? Yes, but this is art after all). You need to, at the very least, like choreographing or dance.
While having a post-secondary degree in choreography will look really cool on your resume, and having obtained one would be an amazing feat that I would absolutely commend you for, it’s not necessary for becoming a choreographer. Mostly, you need to have these basic skills in dance and music, hone your craft, and get some experience.
What are some great lessons you’ve learned about choreography?
Want more advice and information on choreography? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Choreography!