Choreography: Glamour and glitz of choreography

A passion for music and dance can be transformed into this new age profession which offers handsome monetary rewards

It’s not a career choice which family elders are likely to be wildly enthusiastic about. But if you are a young music and fashion aficionado with a preference for leggy models and bright lights who can mentally envision an entire fashion show, right from the stage décor to the colour of each model’s eyeliner, you might want to check out fashion choreography as a career option.

Likewise, if you are a Bollywood fan with a musical ear and a passion for dance, you could very profitably become a film and video choreographer. Apart from ideas and creativity, you require a good musical sense, rhythm, timing, and stamina.

Choreography includes the conceptualisation and orchestration of dance compositions to make up a dance sequence. Dancers who are imaginative, creative, and possessed of the ability to interpret music in terms of dance movements are best qualified for a career in dance choreography in films, on stage, for television and video music shows. Opportunities in this field are expanding with entertainment progressively transforming into an organised sector industry.

With choreographers dancing all the way to their banks, schools offering formal instruction in choreography are fast multiplying. The notable ones are:

Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, for choreography and ballet direction
Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, Bangalore
Faculty of Arts, University of Mysore, Mysore
Government College of Dance and Music, Bhubaneshwar which offers diploma and degree courses in dance and choreography
Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts and Communication, Hyderabad
Kathak Kendra, New Delhi
M.S.University, Baroda

Other institutes conducting short courses are singer-dancer-choreographer Shaimak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts, New Delhi and Mumbai, which conducts dance classes all over the two cities; Danceworx Performing Arts Academy started by Ashley Lobo in New Delhi and Mumbai; and Kasber’s Dance Academy in Mumbai.

Hardly surprising, given that song-and-dance intensive Bollywood feature films are becoming popular abroad and the number of domestic television channels with dance-based talent shows are multiplying, choreography is becoming a lucrative career option. For choreographing one song in a Bollywood film a choreographer can earn between Rs.75,000–100,000. For a fashion show he/she could well take home between Rs.25,000 to 2 lakh depending on the profile of the sponsor and the market reputation of the choreographer.

GLAMOUR AND GRIND. “Nowadays choreographers have to do much more than make models traipse to music. With a global-reach 24-hour fashion television channel setting standards, fashion show sponsors expect international standard choreography and presentation. Therefore, right from stage design, selection of music and lighting, choice of models, make-up and hairdo, and stage direction, a choreographer is deeply involved in all the component operations of a fashion show. A choreographer has to work in tandem with the fashion designer and client to transform a fashion show into a memorable event,” says Gani Shetty, a top-level — and still rising — Mumbai-based fashion choreographer.

A catering graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, Shetty began his career as a hotel receptionist, a decade and a half ago. But a year into his job at Mumbai’s Ambassador Hotel, his passion for dance and fashion design prompted him to switch to fashion choreography, where he has quite evidently found his metier. After learning jazz ballet under Shiamak Davar and acquiring a diploma in Latin American and ballroom dancing from Mumbai’s J.J. Rodriguez School of Dance, Shetty equipped himself with a diploma in fashion design from the India International Trade Centre (IITC), Mumbai.

Since then Shetty has choreographed more than 200 fashion shows all over India and abroad, put several Miss India supermodels through their paces and has worked closely with India’s best fashion designers and photographers while also grooming beauty contestants and wannabe models and lecturing on advanced fashion choreography at IITC.

“This field is booming and there are lots of opportunities for choreographers with a measure of creativity, talent, good musical sense, dance, and fashion awareness. True, it involves a lot of hard work but the rewards of this new profession are good. With fashion shows becoming big business and Bollywood item numbers becoming the rage, choreographers are being paid quite handsomely,” says Shetty.

Choreography as a career offers glamour, money, the prospect of fame, and fantastic growth opportunities in the high profile film and fashion industries. If you have a passion for music and dance, this might be just the new age profession for you.