Northfield, IL | August 31, 2021 | Dance Data Project® (DDP) today releases its Season Overview: 2020 – 2021 Report, an examination of the gender distribution of choreographers for the works programmed by the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies. For the third consecutive year, DDP finds that the majority of work was choreographed by men, with women choreographing only 27% of all works in the 2020-2021 season.
The Report also provides a gender breakdown for types of seasonal programming, including full-length, mixed-bill, and world premiere, as well as noting whether the work was performed by a main or second company. Because companies programmed more, but shorter works in this pandemic-season, DDP analyzed 1,066 works for this Report, up 49% from 714 works last year. Season programming data was exhaustively sourced from primary and secondary sources, and DDP further contacted each company individually to verify data, with a successful 72% response rate.
DDP’s longitudinal approach to the study of programmed choreographers has created an arsenal of data, from which important insights can be drawn. “There has been a 10% increase in programming of works by women since Dance Data Project® first began analyzing industry numbers and advocating for gender equity in ballet programming,” states DDP Research and Project Lead Michayla Kelly. “That 10% is a small but encouraging indicator of DDP’s impact and the trend of increased choreographic commissions by women.”
The 2020-2021 season was unique, running entirely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ballet companies programmed a range of innovative works: virtual, live, and hybrid. However, DDP’s expanded analysis demonstrates that, falling back on a risk averse strategy, the choreographers whose work was programmed by the largest number of companies were George Balanchine and Marius Petipa.
“Particularly since so much of the season programming was virtual (and therefore much less expensive) the glacial pace of change is disappointing. 82% of the non-premiered works were by men, which shows that companies were overly cautious and relied, unimaginatively, on well known male choreographers instead of seizing a unique moment to experiment with new voices and ideas,” remarks DDP Founder & President Liza Yntema. “Ballet companies need to leave their comfort zones to ensure their future with modern audiences and investors.”
DDP’s 2020-2021 Season Overview can be accessed here.
DDP is also expanding its coverage both domestically and internationally. Upcoming reports will include, for the first time, a look at international leadership at ballet companies, as well as an analysis of the largest modern and contemporary companies in the U.S. This research will be announced and released in the coming months — visit the Research page on our website for the latest in DDP findings.