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Mar 23, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Elizabeth Yntema — the President and Founder of the Dance Data Project, which provides helpful resources and studies of the world of dance, all in an effort to inform gender equity and level the playing field. Elizabeth holds a law degree and serves on multiple nonprofit boards — arts-related and otherwise. Additionally, two years ago, she was one of 450 global participants selected to the final full year training cohort of The Philanthropy Workshop, where she spent a year honing her skills as a philanthropist.

The Dance Data Project is a collision of two of Elizabeth’s dearest passions — dance and equal opportunity — and through her company’s work, she’s looking to move the needle towards gender fairness in the arts world. On the podcast, Elizabeth lays out her company’s mission and reveals that the hard data points towards a bleak reality in the world of dance — one where men have been given a clear advantage and women have been shown the backseat. However, Elizabeth is hopeful that her shedding of light on this issue using real, tangible data will make a world of difference. 


Moving Quotes:

"I started Dance Data Project because I think this is something I can solve. There are a lot of problems in the world that I can't fix... I saw this problem as something that I could attack and succeed at."

"People may say, 'This is just ballet. This is how it's always been.' That's actually not true... Most of the big companies in the United States were founded by women."

"I think mentorship is critical — whether it's formal or informal. The best way to get better is feedback."

"Common sense and the willingness to drill down and keep asking questions gets you a long way."

"With big budgets, I think the assumption is that, if a man runs the company, it's somehow more prestigious."

"Sometimes you don't know why you're doing what you're doing. You just try something."

"At every step of the way, men do have mentors. I think we need to institutionalize it for women."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:27: Elizabeth describes the Dance Data Project and reveals some of the stunning statistics the group has uncovered thus far on the gender gap between women and men in dance.

11:48: Elizabeth offers some suggestions for actions that should be taken based on the data to improve the gender gap in dance.

17:20: Yntema talks on the importance of mentors for female dancers and gives some thoughts on the lopsided number of men in dance leadership positions.

23:18: Based on the data that she’s gathered, Yntema sheds some light on the wealth and resources gap between larger and smaller dance companies. 

26:32: Aleksandra and Elizabeth discuss the importance of cultural exchanges and the significance of the Russian ballet.

28:52: Elizabeth walks through her own journey, how she got involved with supporting the arts, and why it’s important for others to do the same.

33:10: Yntema gives a podcast recommendation and discusses the difficulties of entrepreneurship.

36:17: Elizabeth describes the progress that she hopes to see in the next five years.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Elizabeth Yntema


Dance Data Project