May 12, 2021 | Northfield, IL | Dance Data Project® (DDP) today released Part 1 of its annual “Largest 50” analysis of United States ballet companies. DDP has also greatly expanded its research scope, surveying a total of 126 U.S. ballet companies,* an increase of 70% from 74 companies surveyed in 2020.

The report released today, as in previous years, examines the largest 50 ballet-based companies in the United States, ranked by total budget. These 50 companies together command approximately $665,000,000 in annual expenditures. “At almost two-thirds of a billion dollars,” said DDP Research & Special Projects Lead Michayla Kelly, “ballet may be an art form, but it’s also big business.”

In addition to revealing the Largest 50, Part 1 today expands the scope of DDP’s reporting to analyze budgets of the “Next 50” companies by size, which in total represent only 7% of the Largest 50’s combined budgets, demonstrating how comparatively meager the resources are for the next tier of U.S. ballet companies that serve the vital role of enriching local communities across the country.

Part 2, DDP’s 2021 Artistic & Executive Leadership Report, will be issued in late May. The forthcoming report will review the gender distribution of artistic and executive directors, as well analyze the artistic and executive pay of the largest 50 U.S. classically-based companies. In addition, where data is available, DDP will provide the same analysis for the “Next 50” to create a more complete picture of the overall dance economy in the US.

“Year-over-year research is critically important to our work, lending the authority of evidence-based data to holding the industry and companies accountable,” said DDP Founder and President Elizabeth “Liza” Yntema. “If we don’t rethink the biased structures underlying performing arts in the United States, which were both revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic, we will lose a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine and remake classical dance as a more sustainable and engaging art form.”

To inquire about sources, operational definitions, or further classifications for the Largest 50, or to learn more about DDP’s research in general, please contact Michayla Kelly at

*For the purposes of study, Dance Data Project® defines “ballet company” as an organization that has both roots in classical ballet and a professional performing company. DDP also considers factors, such as if the company has an affiliated school that teaches pointe work and/or if the company shares choreographers with other major ballet companies. DDP remains generous and open-minded with the definition and recognizes that the art form is constantly evolving.

The report can be downloaded at the link below.