Whether the choreography is for jazz, ballet, modern, or hip hop, all choreographer jobs require that the candidate have a background in at least one form of dance. In major North American cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, there are a variety of high profile choreographer jobs available within the performing arts. Choreographers are required for live stage performances, music videos, TV commercials, film, and more. Low profile choreographer jobs are typically not as location-specific, and include such roles as dance instructors for performing arts schools, community dance classes or workshops.
Choreographer jobs for live stage performances are available with ballet companies, theater companies, and with touring musical artists. Established ballet companies such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the New York Theatre Ballet may also require their choreographers to tour with the company. Because ballet is a highly technical form of dance, choreographer jobs with a ballet company require a dance background in the formal conventions of ballet specifically. Theatre companies may also stipulate that candidates for their choreographer jobs must be able to tour with the company, unless they are situated in a central location, such as New York City’s Broadway Theatre District.
The person chosen to choreograph a live concert for a music artist will sometimes also serve as the artist’s video choreographer. Choreographer Tina Landon, for example, has choreographed both music videos and world tours for major artists such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Prince, Britney Spears, and Tina Turner. Choreographer jobs with a music artist or band might also require the choreographer to assist them in the selection process for hiring backup dancers, by sitting in on auditions and try outs.
Many choreographers are as well-known for their dancing as they are for their choreography. Some well-known dancer/choreographers include Paula Abdul, who has choreographed for several musicians, films, and TV commercials; Merce Cunningham, who choreographed for fine art galleries; and Gene Kelly, who choreographed for Broadway productions. In small dance collectives and independent troupes, the dancers and choreographers are usually one and the same, due to budget limitations and the desire for the dancers to have complete artistic control.