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The art of Choreography

Choreography is a hot emerging field today and a great career option for young people who are passionate about dancing. There is lesser awareness about the field as a career avenue among the masses even though names of choreographers are well known and dancing is presently quite popular in the country and people enjoy participating as well as viewing dance related activates.

* So what essentially is choreography? *

Starting from the start, choreography as a form itself involves expression of thoughts, ideas and emotions through dance action, body language, movements, and compositional forms. Dance choreography involves knowledge of traditional dance forms and applying that knowledge to create original dance moves that can constitute a whole new number. Choreography is a performing art.


* Who is a choreographer? *

  • Persons who transform ideas into dance sequences are called Choreographers. A choreographer needs adept knowledge and proficiency in not only one but many dance forms, for instance traditional, classical ballet, modern, tap, jazz, folk, ethnic, and ballroom etc, as well as thorough understanding of these forms, agility and flexibility in creation of new routines – it is a highly creative field that allows for the choreographer’s individuality to blossom through their art.
  • It involves teaching aptitude and good interactional skills as the field involves teaching individuals, in the Indian context, often movie stars or professional dancers and so one must possess the ability and social skill requisite for the task. Usually choreographers start out as dancers where they gain experience of the finer elements of dancing and the different aspects of the trade that allows them to use this knowledge later as choreographers.
  • Personality traits vital to the field include self-discipline, patience, self confidence, commitment, and perseverance. They must possess good health and physical stamina, along with flexibility, agility, coordination, and grace, a definitive sense of rhythm, and an understanding of music.


* What’s their job? *     

  • A choreographer can evolve a dance sequence on subscribed music
  • or a written summary of the musical requirement. Excellent visualization by merely listening to the music is the characteristic of a good choreographer – they must possess the vision to build a dance sequence in the head by listening to the music.
  • These people need to aware of not only dance techniques but also music, costumes, lighting, and drama so that they can incorporate these elements to make their performances more emphatic as the field now involves adaptations for varying platforms such as theater, opera, television, movies and other performance venues and therefore they must be able to adapt accordingly.


* Education and training *

  • There are not many professional courses for choreography. Few schools in India offer short-term or diploma courses in choreography. The good part is that a degree is not a necessity, only talent and passion are.
  • The main thing is to have an inborn or natural flair for dance to succeed in this highly competitive industry. Experience counts. Choreographers are often dancers with several years of experience with a dance company or theatre or films, who decided they could take it a notch further.
  • One may be taught about such things in a choreography course as different dance forms, their origin and style, lighting system, costume choice, sense of rhythm, ways to stay fit and active, coordination and communication with celebrities etc.
  • Some of the best institutions in India for choreography are include Sangeet Natak Akademi in New Delhi; Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, Bangalore; Faculty of Arts in various colleges across the country and many more.


* Employment opportunities and the work life *

  • Employment opportunities are plenty for a choreographer. Stage show companies, wedding planning companies, modelling agencies, educational institutes, television and film studios demand the coveted choreographer frequently.
  • One might have to assist an established choreographer for many years to master skills such as conceptualization, visualization, setting sequences to music, training dancers, instruction, production etc. The work is demanding and time-consuming; a professional may have to spend weeks or even months inventing, arranging, directing practice, and making the choreography functionally perfect. It is a hectic life – long work hours consuming weekends and holidays, Rehearsals following the day into night, evening performances and a whole lot of travelling!
  • However, freelance is also a great and much used option -Working with different directors/ choreographers.
  • Choreographers usually work with professional dance companies. Many of the major full-time professional dance companies have resident choreographers under contract. These companies also invite guest choreographers on a seasonal basis.


*Is the field rewarding? *

A big yes! It is lucrative career option, money wise. Pay is usually based on the choreographer’s work reputation and the length of the piece. Beginners start off with a 10,000-15,000 per month while the experienced lot can earn between 5 to 12 lakhs in a year. The pay can be on an hourly basis and according to the performance. The pay per hour ranges between 1,000- 5,000, again, subject to the choreographer’s status. For freelancers, the income may vary, depending on whether the production is privately or publicly funded. Certain organizations may also endow royalties.

All in all it is an exciting and rewarding filed hat beckons passionate practitioners to invest in their lives for the creation of magical creative art form.


Eshita Tiwari

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