2  Definitions

2.1 Where does our data come from?

Our data is collected and curated from publicly available sources (news articles, biographies, social media). At times, we will directly ask organizations or individuals to confirm data. Recording of dancer rosters happens each year on January 1st but is curated by the team later in the season. The data is reviewed by former dancers with personal knowledge about the landscape of US ballet.

2.2 Gender

Classical ballet is currently very gendered, often with men’s and women’s classes, steps, and roles. Because gender norms are so entrenched in the ballet world and because gender directly influences hiring at many companies, we have included perceived gender in our analyses. We use pronouns or gender presentation to identify dancer gender. We recognize that dance holds space for all gender identities, including folks who do not identify with any gender.

There may be inaccuracies related to non-binary individuals or others whose gender presentation on their employer’s website does not accurately reflect their gender. Available online information may have changed since the gender identity for a dancer was first recorded. We make every effort to accurately record gender, but we acknowledge that errors likely exist. A comprehensive survey of gender identity in professional ballet is outside the current scope of our study.

2.3 Second Company Programs

Many programs have emerged to help students move from training schools into company life. These programs have various names: second companies, studio companies, trainee programs, professional divisions, and fellowships. Some of these positions are paid while others are not. In this report, we will refer to all of these as “second companies.” Please note that main company apprentices are not part of second company programs.

2.4 Top 7 and 26 Companies

Throughout this guide, we will often refer to the “top 26 companies” or the “top 7 companies.” What do we mean by that?

We currently collect data from the 26 largest companies in the US each season, growing from seven in our first season (2018-2019). We use a company’s domestic budget as indicated by this Dance Data Project® report to determine this. We do not currently analyze freelance dancers who are not attached to a ballet company. Therefore, our top 26 companies are those companies with the 26 largest domestic budgets in the 2018–2019 season.

The 26 companies for which we have collected data are listed below. The largest seven by budget are at the top of the list. We may refer to a company by its two- or three-letter code throughout our report.

  • New York City Ballet (NYCB)

  • San Francisco Ballet (SFB)

  • American Ballet Theatre (ABT)

  • Houston Ballet (HB)

  • Boston Ballet (BB)

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB)

  • Joffrey Ballet (JB)

  • Miami City Ballet (MCB)

  • Philadelphia Ballet (PAB - formerly Pennsylvania Ballet)

  • Ballet West (BW)

  • Kansas City Ballet (KCB)

  • Atlanta Ballet (ATL)

  • Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT)

  • Washington Ballet (WB)

  • Cincinnati Ballet (CB)

  • Ballet Arizona (BAZ)

  • Texas Ballet Theater (TBT)

  • Colorado Ballet (COB)

  • Sarasota Ballet (SARA)

  • Ballet Austin (AUS)

  • Charlotte Ballet (CHAR)

  • Tulsa Ballet (TB)

  • Richmond Ballet (RICH)

  • Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT)

  • Milwaukee Ballet (MB)

  • Dayton Ballet (DB)*


    * In the Dance Data Project® report, Dayton Ballet’s budget was combined with other non-ballet parts of their organization. Based on the budget for the ballet alone, it is not in the top 26 by budget. However, we continue to record data on Dayton Ballet for continuity.