January 25, 2021 | Northfield, IL | Dance Data Project® (DDP) today announces the 2020 Dance Festival Gender Equity Report, a report that examines the gender distribution of programming and leadership among 2020 festivals and includes a comparative analysis of 2019 and 2020 findings.

DDP’s 2020 Dance Festival Gender Equity Report shows, for the second consecutive year, dance festivals offer women more opportunities when it comes to leadership roles. Sixty-five percent of top festival leaders are female, while 35 percent are male. More women held leadership roles during the spring/summer dance festival season in 2020 than they do in the regular season at the nation’s Top 50 largest ballet companies, where only 25 percent of top leadership is female.

The most notable increase in festival programming equity is within the world premiere category. In 2019, male-choreographed world premieres dominated 59 percent of programming, while 35 percent were choreographed by females. In 2020, male-choreographed works accounted for 44 percent of world premieres, while female-choreographed works accounted for 48 percent.

“DDP is delighted to see the real progress toward programming equity and female leadership within festivals, but men continue to dominate the main stages and regular company seasons,” said DDP Founder and President Liza Yntema. “This paints a broader picture of the plight of talented women in the performing arts. Women are often corralled into mixed repertory, female-only programs or onto smaller stages, while the plum commissions and positions are reserved for men. I am concerned about the emergence of a two-track system.”

The 2020 Dance Festival Gender Equity Report examined a sample of 39 international dance festivals, which DDP selected based on a number of criteria. Relevant factors include curation of performances outside of a single company’s spring/summer ballet season, staging of at least one classical or contemporary ballet work, and inviting a classical company or dancer from a classical company to perform.

“The pandemic has sent our report schedule and data collection process through a loop, to say the least,” said DDP Director of Research and Development Isabelle Vail, “While we were still able to record 199 works—digital, outdoor and in-person, etc.—for the 2020 Dance Festivals report, this was a 13.5% decrease in works recorded compared to the 2019 data, which we revisited, amended, and verified for this report. That being said, we were thrilled to see some continuity in terms of support for women choreographers in our examination of festival programming.”

DDP will continue to update the 2020-2021 Season Status Updates resource in addition to the COVID-19 resources available online. More information and details regarding festival statuses is available upon request. Our research calendar and list of upcoming reports for 2021 can be found here.