DANCE DATA PROJECT® RELEASES FOURTH ANNUAL SEASON OVERVIEW, FINDS WOMEN CHOREOGRAPHED 29 PERCENT OF ALL WORKS PROGRAMMED BY LARGEST 150 U.S. BALLET COMPANIES
Northfield, IL | October 14, 2022 | Today, Dance Data Project® (DDP) releases its 2021-2022 Season Overview Report, an analysis of the choreographic works programmed in the United States. For the first time, DDP has surveyed the programming for 150 U.S. ballet companies, tripling the number of companies previously surveyed. DDP’s Research Coordinator Jenna Magrath said, “As we continue to expand and deepen our analysis, we are offering an ever more comprehensive view of dance leadership & programming in the US.” As has been done each year, DDP recorded choreographer names whose work was presented in the 2021-2022 season, as well as whose work was premiered, to better understand who is getting significant opportunities to showcase their work.
Among the Largest 150 ballet & classically influenced companies, 29% of works were choreographed by women during the 2021-2022 performance season. Only 12% of works comprising an entire evening, either mixed bill or full-length, were choreographed by women.
There is one encouraging finding from this year’s Report. Of all world premieres last season, 51% were choreographed by women. Upon further analysis, DDP found that women choreographed 22% of full-length world premieres and 53% of mixed-bill world premieres. Magrath cautioned, “While this points to increased opportunities for women choreographers, it is important to keep in mind that mixed-bill works are shorter in duration and less cost intensive than full evening works. They also represent a much lower level of commitment from companies.”
“DDP will be interested in understanding the longevity of these shorter works and seeing whether they are performed again in future seasons. Companies can’t simply check ‘hire a female choreographer’ off their to-do list and not sustain their commitment to uplifting female artists,” said DDP Research Lead Rebecca “Becky” Ferrell. “Do commissions for shorter works or works commissioned for a special event eventually result in a female choreographer being hired to create a full-length piece, works that are toured or works being placed in a company’s permanent repertory? If they do not – then women will continue to be siloed into a less prestigious and remunerative track.”
To that point – perhaps most concerning: among the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies, there was a decrease in the percentage of female choreographed full-length works from 29% during the 2020-2021 season to just 8% in the 2021-2022 season. This is an important and worrisome trend.
DDP’s research expansion to also survey works programmed by not only the Next 50 U.S. ballet companies (#51-100 by budget), but also the Additional 50 companies (#101-150 by budget) reveals that the Additional 50 companies, across all metrics, programmed more female choreographers in comparison to the Largest 50 and Next 50.
“This statistic underlines what we expected. Smaller companies tend to be led by women (as revealed in our 2022 Artistic & Executive Leadership Report this summer) who are more open to programming female choreographers,” said DDP Founder & President Elizabeth ‘Liza’ Yntema. “What this points out is that large nationally known companies, with greater financial resources, bigger audiences and frankly, more influence, are choosing not to invest in female choreographers and their careers. If companies with such limited budgets are finding a way to bring more women into the conversations, why can’t companies with ten times the financial resources do the same?”
The 2021-2022 Season Overview Report is available on DDP’s website or by download below. DDP will also release its First Look report of the 2022-2023 season shortly, which will provide a useful bookend to the Season Overview Report.
OF NOTE: Over the coming months, follow Raising the Barre, a free curriculum developed by DDP to support the next generation of female leaders in the dance industry. Raising the Barre offers creative solutions to properly equip female dance leaders of the future with vital skills to strengthen their careers, releasing a full-length conversation with experts in the field and expert-crafted deliverables each month. Viewers can watch each episode and utilize the accompanying assets to compile a robust toolkit and build their careers.