Approximately 7,200 choreographers are employed in the United States. They work for dance companies, theater companies, opera companies, and film and video companies. Some work as freelance choreographers. Others start their own dance companies based in studios that also may offer classes to both professionals and amateurs. The best opportunities are found in major cities—especially entertainment meccas such as New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
Many dancers begin to explore a career in choreography as they reach the latter stages of their professional dancing careers in their late 20s and early 30s (although some dancers perform into their early 50s and beyond). They might informally assist or job shadow various choreographers, gradually learning the art of creating dance routines and sequences. At some point, they might be given the formal position of assistant choreographer.
The professional theater community is relatively small, and many choreographers land their first jobs through word of mouth and/or via contacts they made as dancers. Jobs are also listed in trade magazines and at employment sites. Choreography jobs on cruise ships, with theme parks, and with commercial employers can be discovered by visiting the career pages of these company’s Web sites. Additionally, you should record your choreography and shop it around to agents, or create a Web site that features your resume, dance/choreography credits, and samples of your work.
Dance/USA maintains a national nonprofit dance company roster (https://www.danceusa.org/danceusa-directory-dance-ensembles) that features more than 1,700 companies. Use the list to identify potential employers.
Talented choreographers advance by being asked to work on more prestigious projects, or by moving from jobs in regional theatre to choreographing productions on Broadway. A very experienced choreographer might advance to become artistic or creative director of a dance company or theatre group. Some choreographers become drama, dance, or physical education teachers at high schools and colleges and universities.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
To learn more about the field, read publications such as:
- Dance Magazine (http://www.dancemagazine.com)
- Dance Spirit (http://www.dancespirit.com)
- American Dancer (http://www.americandancer.org)
- SDC Journal (https://sdcweb.org/sdc-journal)
Attend Dance/USA’s annual conference (http://www.danceusa.org) to network, participate in training sessions, and view dance performances.