Choreographers arrange the dance sequences usually performed on stage by ballet dancers and modern dancers, create new dance routines and rehearse the performance of the routines.  They may direct and stage presentations.

Choreographers read and study story lines and musical scores to determine how to translate ideas and moods into dance movements.  They develop ideas for creating dances, keping notes and sketches to record influences.  They design dances for individual dancers, dance companies, musical theatre, opera, fashion shows, film, television productions and special events, and for dancers ranging from beginners to professionals.  They audition performers for one or more dance parts, and direct and stage dance presentations for various forms of entertainment. They direct rehearsals to instruct the dancers how to use the dance steps, and in techniques to achieve the desired effect.

They experiment with different types of dancers, steps, dances and placements, testing ideas informally to get feedback from the dancers. They teach students, dancers and other performers about rhythm and interpretive movement, and assess students' dancing abilities to determine where improvement or change is required.  They advise dancers on how to stand and move properly, teaching correct dance techniques to help prevent injuries.

They design sets, lighting, costumes and other artistic elements of the productions, in collaboration with the cast members, and coordinate the production music with the music directors.  They choose the music, sound effects or spoken narrative to accompany the dance.

Choreographers need to train, exercise and attend dance classes to maintain high levels of technical proficiency, physical ability and physical fitness.  

They can create original dances, or new interpretations of traditional dances, for example the ballet “Swan Lake”. Dance routines are seldom written down. 

Some re-stage traditional dances and works in dance companies' repertoires, developing new interpretations, and they may manage dance schools, or assist in their management.  They may seek influences from other art forms such as theatre, the visual arts and architecture.

Their working environments can range from modern, temperature-controlled facilities to older, more uncomfortable surroundings.

Choreographers work in a variety of settings, such as dance schools and studios, concert halls, dance company premises, theatres, television production stages, educational institutions and private studios.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Visual Arts, Music, Dramatic Arts

What to Study

Degree: A course in Dance is offered at UCT, US and Fine Arts at most universities.

Diploma: N.Dip (Fine Arts) - DUT, TUT, VUT, and a Dance Course at TUT.


  • educational institutions
  • dance companies
  • theatres
  • television and production companies
  • self-employment, own studio

Further Information

P O Box 809
Houghton, 2041
Tel: (011) 487-3689 Fax: (011) 388-1045

Getting Started

  • take part in school plays
  • study the dance routines of various performers
  • speak to dancers and a choreographer this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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