May 2019 First Look: New Season Report

Just Released: DDP “First Look” New Season Report


May 29, 2019, Northfield Illinois  Dance Data Project™ (DDP),, today announced a First Look for the upcoming  2019-2020 ballet season and once again found female choreographers are vastly under represented among the nation’s top ballet companies. Thirty eight of the 50 largest ballet companies in the United States have released their programming for the upcoming year. DDP found men will choreograph 81 percent of all ballet productions for the 2019-20 season.

DDP launched earlier this year to address gender inequities in leadership positions and pay in the country’s 50 largest ballet companies. Although women are the economic drivers of ballet at every level, few career avenues exist for them in ballet beyond dancing or teaching. In its third research report, DDP found the inequities especially great when it comes to the prestigious choreographer positions.

“The figures are still ridiculously low, considering that 70-75 percent of the audiences are female, girls outnumber boys 20/1 in dance academies and the donor base is overwhelmingly female,” said DDP President & Founder Elizabeth Yntema. “Women and girls in the audience want to hear their stories, and see a recognizable artistic vision on stage. Instead, we keep getting men telling women, literally, “what it is to be a woman.’” Sadly, 64% of programs, whether mixed-repertory or full-length works, will be exclusively-male for the 2019-2020 season, which means that for most of the season, the female-dominated audience will experience an exclusively-male creative vision of the world.

Female choreographers made the biggest gains in single-act world premieres. Thirty eight percent will be choreographed by women in the 2019-2020 season. This indicates that companies are commissioning more women to produce original work. In the past, female choreographers often simply restaged classics. However, these gains in smaller, single-act commissions aren’t seen in the more lucrative full-length works.

“More progress needs to be made. When women do get commissioned, it’s for shorter pieces set on the main company or a rare full-length trial run for the second company,” said Isabelle Vail, DDP Director of Research. “One hundred percent of the more prestigious, big budget full-length world premieres for the main company are choreographed by men. This is where we really need to see more opportunities for women.”

“What is really discouraging is that in ballet, you find that where the money is, the men are. Just like Hollywood, the big budget stories are told by men, often about women’s motivations and desires,” said Yntema. “ The (overwhelmingly male) artistic directors who do the hiring continue to discount women and their abilities as creative innovators.”

However, a few daring, more creative, companies are boldly championing female choreographers and their visions. Donors should consciously seek out those artistically innovative companies and support their work to advance the art form, making ballet better and more relevant. #AskB4UGive

The top six companies commissioning women choreographers for the 2019-2020 season are: Sacramento Ballet (67% works), Eugene Ballet Company (60% works), Cincinnati Ballet (56% works), Richmond Ballet (38% works), Nashville Ballet (35% works), and Joffrey Ballet (25% works). Four of these companies have female artistic directors.

It should be noted, when American Ballet Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance announce their seasons, they are, as some of the strongest advocates for women in creative roles, likely to join this distinguished list. Both Kevin McKenzie and Glenn Edgerton, the artistic directors of these companies, have championed women choreographers from small studio to main stage full-length productions.

Four companies have announced exclusively-male rosters for the 2019-2020 season: Ballet Arizona, Texas Ballet Theater, Sarasota Ballet of Florida, and Charlotte Ballet.

Dance Data Project™ will be releasing a full 2018-2019 Season Round Up with a full analysis of all productions by the Top 50 US ballet companies in the coming weeks. For the complete research calendar, please visit the DDP Research Release Schedule on our Research page.