What does a commercial choreographer do?

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What is a Commercial Choreographer?

Commercial choreographers design and create dance routines specifically for commercial purposes. They work across a wide variety of commercial projects, including music videos, concerts, tours, TV shows, movies, advertisements, brand campaigns, corporate events, and promotional videos.

Commercial dance is a highly choreographed and dynamic dance form that combines different styles such as hip hop, jazz, contemporary, and even classical ballet. It is known for its high energy, athleticism, and attention-grabbing performances. One of the defining characteristics of commercial dancers is their ability to seamlessly transition between various styles and genres and adjust their movements and energy to suit different artistic visions and choreographic concepts. The job of the commercial choreographer is to help them achieve this versatility and adaptability, allowing them to bring something fresh and exciting to each performance and thrive in the industry.

What does a Commercial Choreographer do?

A music video dance choreographed by a commercial choreographer.

Duties and Responsibilities
Commercial choreographers typically undertake the following responsibilities and tasks:

  • Creative Conceptualization – collaborate with directors, producers, and clients to conceptualize and develop choreographic ideas that align with the project's vision, theme, and objectives
  • Choreography Design – create original dance routines and movement sequences that convey emotions, tell stories, or enhance the visual appeal of the production; adapt choreography to suit the music, style, and message of the project
  • Music Selection and Editing – choose appropriate music tracks or collaborate with composers and music producers to create custom music for choreography; edit music to fit the timing and structure of the dance routines
  • Staging and Blocking – determine the positioning, formations, and movement patterns of dancers or performers on stage or camera to create visually dynamic and engaging compositions
  • Movement Direction – provide direction and guidance to dancers or actors on executing choreography with precision, expression, and artistic intent; ensure that performers understand and embody the style, technique, and character of the choreography
  • Rehearsal Direction – lead rehearsals effectively by teaching choreography, providing feedback, and addressing technical or artistic challenges; manage rehearsal schedules, coordinate with performers, and maintain a positive and productive rehearsal atmosphere
  • Costume and Prop Coordination – collaborate with costume designers, set designers, and prop masters to ensure that costumes, props, and staging elements complement and enhance the choreography
  • Technical Rehearsals – oversee technical rehearsals to integrate lighting, sound, and other production elements with the choreography; ensure that technical cues are synchronized with the movements of the performers
  • Adaptation and Revision – adapt choreography as needed based on feedback from directors, producers, clients, or performers; make revisions to choreography to address logistical constraints, creative changes, or artistic preferences
  • Documentation and Record-Keeping – document choreography notes, diagrams, and video recordings to preserve and communicate choreographic ideas effectively; maintain organized records of rehearsal schedules, production timelines, and choreographic revisions
  • Collaboration and Communication – collaborate closely with directors, producers, designers, performers, and other creative team members to ensure alignment and coherence between choreography and other elements of the production; communicate effectively to convey artistic concepts, provide feedback, and address concerns
  • Professional Development – continuously seek opportunities for professional growth and development by attending workshops, classes, and industry events; stay informed about current trends, techniques, and innovations in dance and choreography

Types of Commercial Choreographers
Now that we have a sense of the scope of the commercial choreographer’s work, let’s look at some different types of commercial choreographers, each specializing in various genres, styles, and media within the entertainment industry:

  • Music Video Choreographers specialize in creating dance routines specifically for music videos. They work closely with recording artists and directors to design choreography that complements the song's lyrics, mood, and visual aesthetic.
  • Stage Show Choreographers develop dance routines for live performances, including theatrical productions, concerts, award shows, and touring productions. They focus on creating choreography that is dynamic, engaging, and well-suited for stage performances.
  • Film and TV Choreographers design dance sequences for movies, TV shows, and commercials. They collaborate with directors and producers to create choreography that enhances storytelling and messaging, adds visual interest, and aligns with the overall tone of the production.
  • Fashion Industry Choreographers specialize in creating movement and choreography for fashion shows and events, runway presentations, and photo shoots. They work closely with designers and models to choreograph movements that showcase clothing and accessories effectively.
  • Theme Park and Cruise Ship Choreographers create entertainment experiences for theme parks, cruise ships, and resorts. They develop choreography for stage shows, parades, and interactive experiences that entertain guests and enhance the overall guest experience.

In addition to working in one or more of the niches described above, commercial choreographers may specialize further. Here are some examples:

  • Dance Style Specialization – Commercial choreographers may specialize in specific dance styles such as hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap, or ballroom. Mastery of a particular style allows choreographers to create more authentic and impactful routines within that genre.
  • Audience Specialization – Commercial choreographers may specialize in creating choreography for specific demographics or target audiences, such as children, teenagers, adults, seniors, or niche communities. Understanding the preferences and characteristics of the target audience is crucial for designing effective choreography.
  • Theme or Concept Specialization – Commercial choreographers may specialize in developing choreography based on specific themes, concepts, or narratives. This could include choreographing routines that highlight historical periods, cultural celebrations, social issues, or fantasy worlds.
  • Skill Specialization – Commercial choreographers may specialize in choreographing specific skills or techniques, such as acrobatics, aerial dance, partner work, or prop manipulation. Mastery of specialized skills allows choreographers to create unique and innovative routines.

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What is the workplace of a Commercial Choreographer like?

Commercial choreographers can work for a variety of individuals, organizations, and entities within the entertainment and creative industries. These are among their most common employers:

  • Production Companies – Production companies that specialize in creating music videos, films, television shows, commercials, and live events often hire commercial choreographers to design and choreograph dance sequences for their projects.
  • Theater Companies – Theater companies, including Broadway productions, touring companies, and regional theaters, hire choreographers to create dance sequences for musicals, plays, revues, and other stage productions.
  • Recording Artists – Musicians, bands, and recording artists frequently work with commercial choreographers to create dance routines for their music videos, concert performances, and promotional events.
  • Advertising Agencies – Advertising agencies and marketing firms hire commercial choreographers to develop choreography for commercials, brand campaigns, product launches, and other promotional materials.
  • Event Companies – Event planning companies and entertainment agencies may employ commercial choreographers to choreograph performances for corporate events, product launches, award ceremonies, and other special occasions.
  • Fashion Industry – Fashion designers, modeling agencies, and fashion show producers often collaborate with choreographers to choreograph runway shows, fashion presentations, photo shoots, and promotional events.
  • Hospitality Industry – Theme parks, cruise lines, resorts, and hospitality venues employ choreographers to create entertainment experiences for guests, including stage shows, parades, character performances, and interactive experiences.
  • Educational Institutions – Colleges, universities, and dance schools may hire commercial choreographers as faculty members or guest instructors to teach dance and choreography classes, workshops, and masterclasses.

Commercial choreographers may also work as freelancers, taking on projects from a variety of clients and collaborators.

Based on the nature of their work and focus, commercial choreographers may find themselves transitioning between different settings. They may spend time in performance venues such as theaters, concert halls, arenas, and outdoor stages; in dance studios and rehearsal spaces equipped with dance floors, mirrors, and sounds systems; on film or TV production sets; or in production offices and shared coworking spaces. In some instances, they may need to travel to various locations for rehearsals, filming, or promotional events. They may work on local productions or travel internationally for projects that require their expertise in different parts of the world.

Depending on their role, commercial choreographers may also engage in administrative tasks, such as scheduling rehearsals, communicating with cast and crew, and managing budgets and contracts.

In recent years, choreographers have increasingly utilized virtual platforms and digital tools for choreographic exploration, collaboration, and presentation. Commercial choreographers may conduct virtual rehearsals, share choreographic ideas online, or participate in virtual residencies and workshops.

Frequently Asked Questions

Commercial Choreographers are also known as:
Commercial Movement Director