The popularity of dance on TV and in videogames in recent years has shown that most of us love to cut some rug, but who comes up with all those amazing moves? Well, it’s choreographers like the talented Wilhelmina here, who is a Young Artist at the world-famous dance theatre Sadler’s Wells in London. Read on and be inspired to glide across the dance floor (or your bedroom carpet, if that’s easier!).

What is your name?

Wilhelmina Ojanen.

What is your job title?
I am a choreographer and currently a Young Associate artist at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

How did you get your job?

I have always been passionate about dancing and making my own work. When I was younger, I would spend hours in a studio by myself making choreographies and ultimately trying to show them to others. In high school, I finally admitted to myself that dancing was something I wanted to pursue as a career and I have been on that path ever since. I studied contemporary dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and I am currently about to complete my master’s degree in dance performance, also at Trinity Laban. Last year, I was nominated from Trinity Laban to take part in the selection process for Sadler’s Wells Young Associates, where we had to create a new piece for the Lilian Baylis Studio. From that, Sadler’s Wells chose four young choreographers to take part in their two-year artist development programme. I am incredibly happy and grateful to call myself one of the first four inaugural Young Associates at Sadler’s Wells.

What do you love about your job?

I love dancing; always have and always will. I am very grateful to be able to immerse myself in my passion and invite others to join me in that. I love working in the studio with others, and it is incredibly inspiring to be around other creative and passionate people.

What’s difficult about your job?

As a choreographer, you are in charge of the bigger picture of the piece. You make the final decisions in terms of how the piece is made and how it will look. You decide what kind of costume, sound, lighting or props the piece will require in order to best convey what you are trying to communicate. It is a huge responsibility, but it pays off at the end when you see the piece come together on stage and in front of an audience.

What skills do you need?
It is important to remain open and curious to new ideas and any suggestions that the dancers have to offer in the studio. Team-working skills are very important, as well as an ability to create a supportive studio atmosphere where people feel able to express themselves. It is also important to be able to trust yourself to make important creative decisions at any moment.

What school subjects are important?
Because I went to school in Finland, I was not able to do dance as a subject in school until high school, so I took dance classes after school. For me, important subjects were physical education, drama and art, but if I had the chance I would have definitely done dance for GCSE and A-Level!

Where should young people start if they want to do the job, too?

Start by going to dance classes and experimenting with different styles. Once you become comfortable in your abilities, experiment in making your own dance sequences and choreographies. Sharing your work with others will help you gain perspective and develop your skills.

How do you think your job could change in the future?

In the future, I think choreography will be even more important. In my opinion, choreographers, as well as other artists, have an important role and responsibility to reflect on what is happening in our world and bring it in front of audiences. I believe this work will be more common and necessary in the future.

Wilhelmina will be debuting her first solo work alongside the other Young Associate artists at the Lilian Baylis Studio on 9 & 10 October.

If you’re interested in doing work experience at Sadler’s Wells, placements are advertised around the beginning of each year (around February), then there are placements throughout May-July across a range of departments. Keep an eye out for vacancies at https://sadlerswells.engageats.co.uk/LoginV2.aspx.