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Choreographer

Choreographers express ideas through dance. They design dances for professional or untrained dancers.

Also Known As

Dance Designer, Designer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Choreographers (5131.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Producers, Directors, Choreographers and Related Occupations (F031) 
  • 2011 NOC: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131) 
  • 2016 NOC: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations (5131) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Choreographers
2006 NOC : 5131.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to create dances that convey stories, ideas and moods and harmonize with musical scores

DIRECTIVE

Interest in planning and arranging movements of dancers and other performers, evaluating performances during rehearsals and directing dancers during rehearsals to achieve desired interpretations

SOCIAL

Interest in instructing dancers in their performances and artistic interpretations, and by demonstrating movements required to convey themes

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Choreographers translate stories, ideas, and moods into movements for performance by professional dancers or to provide physical activity for untrained individuals. This may involve:

  • Expressing ideas through physical movements, patterns, and formations
  • Choosing music, sound effects, or spoken narrative to accompany movements
  • Experimenting with different dancers, dance steps, and placements
  • Reinterpreting and restaging existing works in a dance company’s repertoire
  • Choosing suitable dancers through auditions
  • Teaching dancers and other performers
  • Practising regularly to stay in shape
  • Discussing ideas, plans, and budget with producers, costume designers, and musical or artistic directors

To communicate creatively through the human form, choreographers must consider the limits to which dancers can push their bodies. At the same time, they must build a safe and trusting environment for creative risk-taking.

Choreographers may use recording equipment or choreographic methods to record dance movements and patterns.

In small dance companies, choreographers may have additional artistic or managerial responsibilities. For example, they may:

  • Design lighting and costumes. For more information, see Lighting Designer, Set Designer, and Costume Designer occupational profiles.
  • Incorporate images, text, interactive media, and live or recorded music in their creations
  • Write grants and take on other administrative duties
  • Coordinate tours

Freelance choreographers must also be able to promote and market themselves to find work.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Choreographers work long hours, including weekends and holidays. They may work on more than one show at a time. Rehearsals are particularly busy times, when choreographers must work with artistic directors, theatre designers, and technical crews. Rehearsals may take place during the day or in the evening to accommodate dancers who work at other jobs. Performances are usually in the evening.

Teaching and other contract work may add significantly to a choreographer’s daily working hours.

There may be a lot of travel, which may include overseas travel. The likelihood of travel increases with success, as popular shows often tour nationally or internationally.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Choreographers need:

  • Persistence, determination, energy, and stamina
  • A strong imagination and a desire to create
  • An appreciation of various musical styles
  • An excellent sense of rhythm and knowledge of the theory of timing in music
  • A unique vision, strong will, and steady focus
  • A high level of dancing ability and fitness
  • Leadership, teaching, and communication skills
  • Marketing, social media, and business skills
  • The ability to build a support system to facilitate their vision

They should enjoy creating innovative dances, taking charge of situations, and teaching others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Most choreographers come from a dance background and specialize in one style of dance. However, they are often trained in various styles, from classical ballet to modern dance. They may draw on these traditions in their interpretive creations. It is helpful for choreographers to understand:

  • Historical costumes
  • Social and cultural trends
  • Human anatomy and the movement potential of dancers

A background in production design and the ability to read music are definite assets.

Dance training is available through colleges, universities, private dance schools, and professional dance companies. For more information, see the Dancer occupational profile.

Most dance companies provide opportunities for experienced dancers to learn by working under the direction of skilled choreographers. Classes in choreography are part of most dance programs.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Choreographers usually work with professional dance companies. Full-time (resident) positions for choreographers are rare. In fact, dance companies often ask members of their dance troupes to create new works rather than contract a choreographer. Each job may lead to more recognition and bigger opportunities for choreographers. Choreographers need to showcase their work whenever possible.

Professional choreographers often work part time in their profession while also working in related occupations such as dancer, dance teacher, or movement coach. Some are the artistic directors of their own dance companies or run their own dance schools.

Choreographers may also be hired by organizers of events such as:

  • Community festivals
  • Cruise ships
  • Fashion shows
  • Theatre, opera, or circus performances
  • Large sporting events or spectacles such as the Olympic Games
  • TV shows, film productions, or music videos

Opera and theatre companies may hire choreographers to train actors in dance movements or to design dance sequences.

Many choreographers progress into teaching in either the private or the public sector. Other career options include working as dancers, actors, or directors, or becoming managers in the film, TV, or theatre industries. Some find work as movement coaches (dramaturgy) for actors.

Some choreographers become dance movement psychotherapists, helping clients achieve personal development through dance and movement. For more information, see the Creative Arts Therapist occupational profile.

Choreographers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations. In Alberta, 89% of people employed in this classification work in the Information, Culture and Recreation [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Information, Culture and Recreation industry)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5131: Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Earnings for choreographers vary depending on factors such as:

  • Type of employment, such as freelance, fixed term, or contract
  • Type of contract and production being worked on
  • Level of experience and reputation in the industry
  • Size of the company or organization

Choreographers may receive royalties every time one of their choreographed pieces is performed, or they may charge one-time fees to choreograph works for special events.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations

2016 NOC : 5131
Average Wage
$33.86
Per Hour
Average Salary
$67,553.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.3
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5131 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $36.80 $27.59 $26.87
Overall $15.00 $45.67 $33.86 $34.70
Top $17.00 $47.40 $35.56 $37.14

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Information, Culture, Recreation
ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

42%
42%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

0%
0%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

1%
1%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 17, 2021

Cultural Human Resources Council website: culturalhrc.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 17, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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