Dear DDP Family,

The end of the year always causes me to reflect on and take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. For the ballet world, 2021 has certainly been more “normal” than 2020 was, for which we are grateful. For instance, I hope those of you who spend most of the month of December with the “Waltz of the Flowers” constantly stuck in your heads are enjoying your return to the stage. I, for one, am excited about the upcoming new commissions from women choreographers at ballet companies around the world. Mostly, I’m excited about the direction of Dance Data Project® and the impact we’ve had over the past year. This edition of the newsletter will highlight recent research, our major feature in the Chicago Tribune, upcoming commissions by female choreographers, and a few interviews with leading women in ballet.

In this issue, we have the following features:
  • DDP's 20th Listening Tour
  • Choreographer Profile
  • Hope Boykin
  • The Latest in DDP Research & DDP in the News
  • Women-Led Company Profiles
  • Dance Aspen
  • Deos Contemporary Ballet
  • Guest Blogs from Eva Stone & Nicole Haskins
  • News from the Field
  • DDP Team & Advisory Council Announcements

For now, I hope you have a joyful holiday season, and I look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store!

DDP Hits the Road for its
20th Listening Tour!

DDP Founder & President Liza Yntema was absolutely delighted to be invited recently by Susan Jaffe to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT), to meet Aszure Barton, whose new work for the company will be performed in March. This year, at both PBT and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ms.Yntema is supporting Ms. Barton’s work. This was DDP’s 20th Listening Tour visit, an initiative we launched in 2015 to learn on the ground about the practices, culture, and work of dance companies across the United States.
By speaking with everyone at ballet companies, from maintenance personnel, ballet moms (and dads) bunheads of all ages, as well as staff, teachers, dancers, and visitors, DDP has gained a broad, unique understanding of the industry, the issues facing companies, large and small, regional differences, and now, with the pandemic, the extraordinary “dance” that everyone, whether on the Artistic or Executive side, must perform to keep everyone safe, while adjusting to a new normal as much as is possible in these uncertain times.

Hope Boykin
Choreographer Profile

Choreographer and dancer Hope Boykin walks us through her creative process, alludes to exciting new projects, and mentions her growth as a result of the pandemic.

She shares: "These last few months have been some of the most trying in my adulthood. We all get older, and with age is wisdom and all that stuff, yes, yes, yes. BUT… when I don’t see things as clearly, or when I am not as flexible as I once was, and my clothes don’t fit they way they once did, I must stop and take note of what I could be doing, and realize I am changing. Now, we often make ourselves feel like it is bad, but it’s not. #ItsJustLife and to tell the truth, I’m much better now—a more thoughtful thinker, a stronger teacher and educator, a clear and focused speaker, and ultimately, I’m a better artist. I simply must continue to give myself permission to accept Hope as I am. I can and will encourage myself, but I must love me before I can show anyone else love. "

The Latest in DDP Research
2021 has been a prolific year for Dance Data Project® in terms of research! We have continued in DDP's tradition of investigative, numbers-driven research, with a keen eye towards gender equity. This year we re-produced DDP's signature annual reports with the most up-to-date data, while also expanding into new areas, including modern and contemporary dance companies, resident choreographer positions, tenure of artistic directors, the largest 100 U.S. ballet companies, and more.

Our research this year uncovered:
  • In the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies, just 30% of Artistic Directors are women.
  • Comparatively, in the Largest 50 U.S. contemporary and modern dance companies, 50% of Artistic Directors are women (an equitable gender distribution).
  • Men choreographed 69% of all works programmed at the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies in the 2020-201 season.
  • At the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies, 71% of Artistic Directors have been men (from founding to present). 29% have been women.

I invite you all to peruse DDP's research, both the full reports and mini "Data Bytes," on our website and to share it with the artists and women in your lives. Knowledge is power, and with power comes change! And until then, DDP will be here, asking hard questions and crunching the numbers on gender equity in the dance field.

- Michayla Kelly, DDP Research Lead

Read our latest research at

DDP in the News
This has been a huge few months for Dance Data Project®, as we have been featured prominently in several publications. Most notably, in October, DDP’s research statistics were cited in a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune about women in dance working to change the abysmal percentages of women choreographers being commissioned by major ballet companies. Meg Waite Clayton also cited our research in her Op-Ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, shining a light on the search for San Francisco Ballet’s new artistic director and highlighting that “the decision of who will lead the San Francisco Ballet will help set the ballet world on a new course — one that should be in line with both its dancers and its audience.” Most recently, Liza was featured in the UBS Advisor Podcast 5 Things with Tracy Byrnes, sharing wisdom to encourage women to take charge of their philanthropic endeavors and utilize DDP's #AskB4UGive campaign.

Company Profiles & Guest Blogs
This issue features profiles of the newly formed Dance Aspen and Deos Contemporary Ballet, as well as Guest Blogs from DDP Friends Eva Stone and Nicole Haskins.

Dance Aspen

DDP connected with Founder and Executive Director Laurel Winton to discuss Dance Aspen's rise from the ashes, the power of a woman-led company, and much more!

Deos Contemporary Ballet

Tess Sinke (Creative Director) & Andrew Hoekstra (Executive Director) share how the name "Deos Ballet" came to be, the future of the organization, and how it feels to work so closely with your spouse!

Guest Blog: Eva Stone

Choreographer Eva stone shares insight for the program she curated at PNB entitled "New Voices: Choreography and Process for Young Women in Dance"

Guest Blog: Nicole Haskins

DDP Friend and choreographer Nicole Haskins shares her case for choreography workshops in the dance world.

News from the Field

As we seek to highlight recent and upcoming commissions and performance updates featuring female choreographers at major companies around the world, we are highlighting the following. If you wish to be featured in the next edition of the newsletter, email

From Erin Barnett, Founder of Black Girls Dance®

Friday, December 10, 2021 | The Philadelphia Dance Company - Philadanco! celebrated 50+1 years of dance excellence with a performance held at the Kimmel Center. 

Former dancers traveled from all over to support the company and leadership of Joan Myers Brown.  

Kathy Smith, (pictured with Black Girls Dance® Founder Erin Barnett) a renowned dancer and emerging choreographer, premiered her first work danced by a professional company. 

Delores Brown (pictured to the right), is a pioneer Black ballerina who studied with the School of American Ballet and danced with the New York Negro Ballet in 1958. 

Erin shares, "Affectionately known as “JB” or “Aunt Joan,” Joan Myers Brown turns 90 on December 25 and her wisdom and spirit inspires me to be a better leader. I met JB as a dance major at Howard University. She was my ballet instructor. Years later I had the honor of dancing with Philadanco! for four seasons."

To learn more about Black Girls Dance®, click here.
To support Philadanco!'s 51st season, click here.

From Oklahoma City Ballet
Robert Mills brings Pennsylvania-born and New York City-based choreographer Jessica Lang to Oklahoma City once again to stage one of her signature works, the surreal and lush To Familiar Spaces in Dream, coming February 18-20 as part of Made in the U.S.A. and a new commission from choreographer Sarah Tallman as part of Future Voices - A Choreographic Showcase, March 17-20. Visit for tickets and more information.

From Festival Ballet Providence
In October, Festival Ballet wrapped their return to indoor performances with a mixed repertory program called “Continuing Points,” which featured a new work from Boston Ballet’s Lia Cirio, a dynamic and delightful contemporary piece called Sabali, meaning “patience,” which she describes as a look at what it means to accept patience in one’s life. Additionally, Friend of DDP Annabelle Lopez Ochoa restaged Returning Points, which she discusses in this video, as she highlights the opportunity for representation of female choreographers and more diverse voices on the stage. 

From Ballett Zürich

Ballett Zürich is pleased to announce Angels’ Atlas, a triple bill coming in March 2022 featuring two pieces from renowned Choreographer Crystal Pite, whose career spans three decades - Emergence and Angels’ Atlas. For tickets and more information, visit Ballett Zürich’s website.

From Hungarian National Ballet

Hungarian National Ballet recently celebrated the premiere of Les Enfants Terribles, the dance-opera by Philip Glass on 13 November 2021. Staged by Director-Choreographer Dóra Barta, it also included female set and costume designers Ildi Tihanyi and Andrea Kovács, respectively. The piece was written for three pianos, and in the production, one of the pianists was Andrea Fernandes.  

From New England Ballet Theatre

NEBT is pleased to present The Fantastic Toyshop December 18-19, 2021, featuring choreography by co-founder Rachael Gnatowski. For tickets and more information, visit

From Friend of DDP, Nicole Haskins

Smuin Contemporary Ballet is continuing to perform two of Nicole’s works in their annual Christmas Ballet production: Joy to the World and J-I-N-G-L-E BELLS. Tickets and more information on

Nicole was also one of 3 choreographers to create a new version of the Nutcracker for Sacramento Ballet which premiered December 11th. More information and tickets can be found on

From Kaatsbaan Cultural Park

Kaatsbaan Cultural Park announced their 2022 Summer and Fall Festival lineup, featuring choreographers, such as Danielle Agami and Faye Driscoll.

From Friend of DDP, Helen Simoneau

Helen Simoneau is currently working on Delicate Power, a new work for Helen Simoneau Danse that examines how individuals hold and exert power through voice and body. The work will feature an original score by Pulitzer prize-winning composer and musician Caroline Shaw, with dramaturgy by Melanie George and costume design by Quinn Czejkowski. The piece is co-commissioned by the American Dance Festival.

From Friend of DDP Tiler Peck

Award-winning New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck will kick off the inaugural presentation of Artists at the Center—a new series that provides the world’s greatest artists a curatorial platform for creative exploration and collaboration. Peck has also launched another capsule collection with Stateside and released her second children’s book!

From Ballet Tucson

Ballet Tucson announces its reFRESH Winter Concert 2022 in partnership with the Tucson Desert Song Festival. The reFresh Winter Concert is a celebration of women in song and dance, and it features broadway legend Ann Hampton Callaway. The company’s artistic team
have created a triple bill of three distinctive and entertaining works that align with this year's theme. For more information or tickets to the January 28-30 production, click here.

From Friend of DDP Claudia Schreier
Claudia Schreier has an amazing 2022 lined up. Click here to learn more about her upcoming premieres at Atlanta Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Dance Theater of Harlem. She will also be premiering a new work for Boston Ballet as a part of the ChoreograpHER program in March, for which our Founder Liza Yntema is a supporter.

From Eugene Ballet

This February, experience the remarkable work of five female choreographers in a single performance at Celebration of the Uncommon Woman. The production features works by Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Penny Saunders, and Nicole Haskins, as well as Eugene Ballet’s own Toni Pimble and Suzanne Haag, supported by DDP Founder Liza Yntema in honor of Toni's extraordinary tenure as Artistic Director.

DDP on the Move
There are big things happening among our DDP Advisory Council and team members!
DDP is pleased to announce the addition of two new members of our Advisory Council - Lynn Garafola and Gregory Youdan. 
Lynn Garafola

Lynn Garafola joins the DDP Advisory Council as Professor Emerita of Dance at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance, editor of José Limón: An Unfinished Memoir and other books, and curator of several exhibitions, including Dance for a City: Fifty Years of the New York City Ballet and Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer. La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern, a biography of the twentieth-century’s most eminent woman choreographer, will be published by Oxford University Press in early 2022. 

Additionally, DDP recently dedicated our Leader Board (now comprising over 760 entries) to Lynn for her lifelong commitment to dance scholarship and critique. 
Gregory Youdan

Gregory Youdan, Jr., MA, MS joins the DDP Advisory Council, currently serving as visiting research scholar at Brown University. As a dancer, Greg toured domestically and internationally with the NY Baroque Dance Company, Sokolow Theatre/Dance and Heidi Latsky Dance, where he now serves as a board member. He serves as co-chair for the research committee of the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH). He is a Westheimer Fellow and teaching artist through Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD® program. Greg frequently lectures on dance science at several universities, including Columbia University, NYU and the University of Rochester. He has presented scientific research at various academic conferences, including American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and International Society for Posture and Gait Research and published in academic journals. Greg is a graduate of the dance program at Hofstra University and holds dual masters degrees in Motor Learning and Applied Statistics from Teachers College, Columbia University.
We are also pleased to introduce several new (or newly promoted) members of our DDP team -
Shanti Aisha Drake, Michayla Kelly, Isabelle Ramey, and Hayley Weber
Shanti Aisha Drake
Strategic Operations Manager

Shanti Aisha Drake joins DDP as Strategic Operations Manager. Shanti is a former dancer who began her training in classical ballet, continuing in Graham, Horton, and jazz techniques, as well as African and Native American dance. Combining her love for dance with her passion for social justice and equity, she spent time as a teacher and choreographer, focusing on communities with less access to the study of classical ballet. Shanti’s professional work outside of dance weaves together a unique tapestry of leadership experience in non profit fundraising, development, research and advocacy, business retail, and community engagement.

Connection and relationship being at the heart of Shanti’s collaborative leadership style, she is a strong proponent of access and representation. Proud to be a part of the DDP team as of this fall, Shanti is thrilled to support work toward the advancement of equity in dance. Now the mother of a dancer, Shanti resides in the Chicago area with her daughter, Siberian Husky and rescue cat.
Michayla Kelly
Research & Project Lead

Michayla Kelly joined DDP earlier this year as Research & Project Lead. Kelly holds a BA in Mathematics and Dance from Goucher College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and received the Julia Rogers Research Prize for her capstone paper, The Fundamental Shared Essence of Dance and Mathematics. Michayla has performed with ballet, opera, and contemporary companies and is currently the Company Manager for VLA DANCE, an emerging contemporary company in Boston, MA. She is also an educator of both ballet and mathematics and has been commissioned by the state of Massachusetts as an independent data analyst. She is passionate about the intersection of mathematics and social justice and proud to join the DDP team in using quantitative research to advocate for a more just and transparent dance world. 
Isabelle Ramey
Communications Lead

Isabelle Ramey joined DDP this summer as an intern and took on the role of Communications Lead this fall. She is a recent graduate of Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance and BS in Mathematics. At Butler, Isabelle has been recognized with the Eileen Poston Dance Scholarship for outstanding performance, as well as the Amos Carpenter Memorial Award for excellence in mathematics. She recently joined Phi Beta Kappa and is completing her professional certification in Data Science. Isabelle relocated to Austin, TX this fall to begin her first season as an apprentice with Ballet Austin.
Hayley Weber
Computer Science Consultant

Hayley Weber joined DDP this fall as a Computer Science Consultant. Weber is a recent Butler University graduate who received a BA in Dance Pedagogy and completed minors in both Computer Science and Mathematics. In addition to her schoolwork and performances at Butler, Hayley served the dance department as President of Sigma Rho Delta. Over the summer, she completed the Simonson Method of Teacher Training course becoming certified to teach Simonson Technique. Originally from San Diego, she is currently a freelance dancer and teacher in New York City. Hayley is excited to combine her love of the arts and sciences with DDP.

We'd also like to share that Special Projects Consultant Bradford Chin is taking a brief leave from his work at DDP while pursuing his Master's. Bradford's work was recently published by Dance Magazine, click here to read more.

We are so proud of each and every team member and their contributions to both DDP and the larger dance community!

Looking into 2022...

NEW DDP Series: “2 Fails, 1 Challenge, & a Triumph”

As you’ll remember, over the course of 2020 and 2021, DDP offered five rounds of our Global Conversations series - interviews with movers, shakers, and makers in and around dance, who are innovating, creating, and changing the industry. Now, we are pleased to announce a new video & podcast series entitled 2 Fails, 1 Challenge, & a Triumph. We will interview choreographers, leaders in dance, and other trailblazers and facilitate a conversation around the reality of what we all face trying to get a business, a ballet company, and/or a new work staged or filmed. Be on the lookout for more details in the new year!

Created by Ellen FitzGerald
Compiled by Isabelle Ramey
Header Artwork by Elliana Given