Choreographers provide creative and training services for many different types of physical performers. Theatrical troupes, cheerleading squads, dance teams, concert producers and motion picture producers contract choreographers to develop routines and work with performers as they learn them. Due to the temporary and creative nature of a choreographer's work, contracting choreographers is different from most other types of employment.
A choreography contract is likely to last from a specified start date to a specific end date, at which time the client expects to be finished with the production. Choreographers can be contracted for any period of time, from a few days for a small-scale musical to several years for a major new theatrical production or feature film. The contract should include terms for additional payment if the production experiences delays. It should also state whether the choreographer is required to stay for additional work past the expected end date, and under what circumstances the choreographer or client may legally terminate the contract early.
Choreographers who offer their services as independent contractors are free to negotiate payment amounts and terms with each client. Payment can include an initial deposit, a weekly or daily rate, a final payment upon completion of a job, or a combination of the three. For example, a choreographer working on a film set helping two actors stage a fight scene may request a day rate to ensure income if the production goes on for an extended period of time, as well as an up-front fee for designing the fight sequence beforehand. A choreographer for a dance team may charge a set fee with half due before beginning work and half due upon completion of service.
The amount choreographers earn varies widely from one professional to another. Skilled choreographers may seek job stability instead of high wages for temporary contract work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaried choreographers typically earn between $25,000 and $55,000 per year. This means that to match a choreographer's salaried rate, a client would need to agree to a contract with an average weekly rate of between $500 and $1,000.
Contracting a choreographer involves a transaction for creative property, which the contract must protect. This may include a clause stating that the choreographer's work is a matter of personal artistic creation and may not be identical to past work. A choreographer's contract should also note that the client owns exclusive rights to reproduce or sell the work. This prevents the choreographer from selling the same routine to multiple clients.