The pros and cons of starting a company versus being a freelance choreographer

by Erin
(Seattle)

Hello, I have really been enjoying your site! Thank you so much for the extent of information that you offer.

My question is about starting a career as a choreographer. What are the pros/cons of starting a company versus being a freelance choreographer?

Any thoughts would be most helpful!

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Feb 25, 2014
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Dear Erin,

The pros and cons of starting a company depend on many circumstances, including personal, artistic, financial and contextual issues.

If you have identified a group of good working artists that somehow want to share your creative ideas, you may have the possibility of developing an artistic/aesthetic project on a long term. That is of great value for many artists.

Also, achieving to maintain a stable dance company may give you social recognition, which can facilitate merchandising in a future.

However, experience has shown me that the life of dancing companies depends a lot on financial stability. Unless your staff has other sufficient incomes, you need to assure them a stable and adequate payment. This means that you have to take it very seriously, as a business. That implies a lot of hard work that is not related to choreography itself. It also means an engagement for many years, which is not suitable for all personalities or artistic projects.

That long time engagement may also be uncomfortable for many dancers or artists, because it somehow forces the creative processes to that condition. For this reason, many contemporary dance people prefer to skip from one individual project to another.

Being a freelance choreographer gives you the freedom to vary your professional activity more. You can work on separated projects and give yourself resting periods, according to your personal, artistic or financial situation. The downside of this is that if you wait to be engaged, the risk of being unemployed is high.

Yet, in both cases, and as every artist, you will need to do a lot of management, unless you have the means to pay someone to do it for you.


The local context in which you live is important too. If your town offers good conditions and governmental help for artistic enterprises, then you ought better make profit of that circumstance and go for your stable dance company. You can always find alternatives to turn around the downsides of this option on the way.

On the other hand, if you know that there are many opportunities for freelance choreographers in your city, and you will be missing them, then this may be the best option.


Dance companies arise only once a piece is created. You can start with that as a freelance choreographer and according to what you feel and learn, you can decide. I believe it's better to have some personal experience first. Knowing the staff, the markets and the whole situation of directing an artistic group will let you know which path is the best for you.

Warm regards,

Maria

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