DFA Data Collection and Accountability

Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists (also known as DFA) is a national dance fellowship program that offers direct support to individual artists who have developed a sustained and intentional practice of working through dance and movement-based modalities to address social change. In Round Two of the program (2021-2023), 30 fellows were awarded a $30,000+ award that was used at the artist’s discretion. DFA’s values align with artists whose social change practices reflect the national dance ecosystem’s rich and wide-ranging perspectives.
In Round Two, as part of DFA’s responsive program design, the program team built internal systems of accountability to support the application review process and to challenge implicit biases. Demographic information was gathered through the submission forms, and each applicant was able to self-identify around gender/sex, race/ethnicity, artistic form/genre, and disability*.
From the 413 applications received for DFA Round Two, the data collected resulted in:
  • 383 unique names for dance and movement forms, genres, and disciplines, equaling 1,558 mentions with an average of 3 to 4 forms/genres per application,
  • 246 unique identities for race and ethnicity, totaling 775 mentions,
  • 25 unique identities for gender and sex, with 429 mentions.

To amplify the trends and patterns within this demographic information, we collaborated with graphic designer Gene Pendon to create the charts shared below.

Please note, all these charts are meant to be read as intersectional and as multiplicitous; applicants often chose multiple words to describe their identities and practices. 

*Disability is not represented in the below charts as we did not request applicants to name their specific impairment, so disability identification is binary.

Gender and Sex Data

The chart focuses on undoing any binaries or unintentional centering of heteronormative structures and instead illustrates multiplicity as many of the applicants chose multiple words to identify their gender. Moreover, each term was pulled apart, and their mentions listed separately (e.g., when counting trans male in one response alongside trans nonbinary, two mentions for trans were listed and one mention for male and one for nonbinary). These groupings are meant to be intersectional and each term expansive, therefore dismantling any restrictive or patriarchal definition.
ID in caption

Two sets of overlapping concentric circles with “female”, “femme”, “woman” (mostly female, femenino, identifying woman, I am woman hear me roar, woman-ish) representing one side with 244 mentions and “male” and “man” representing the other with 86 mentions. The overlapping middle represents terms “trans”, “transgender” and “trans spectrum” with 8 mentions. Above but outside the overlapping circles are words agender, fluid, gender-fluid, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, neutrois, nonbinary, queer, and two-spirit (47 mentions). Below and outside the circles are binary, cis, cisgender (44 mentions). Credit info: Gender/Sex mentions from original applicant pool (Round two) Data visualization chart created by Gene Pendon (design) and Michèle Steinwald (data).

Download a PDF of this chart.

Race and Ethnicity Data

The chart foregrounds the smallest numbers of mentions as they show the greatest amount of diversity within the applicant pool. The higher numbers of mentions contain and encompass larger cultural communities. These larger circles surround the smaller inner circles to never lose the solitary individual mentions as the visual core of the chart. All the circles combine gravitationally onto one balancing point at the bottom, linking the circles. (Please note that to avoid antiquated language, the term caucasian was eliminated and mentions instead counted towards the term white.)
ID in caption

A chart of 246 race and ethnicities, layered in five concentric circles. Text that represents a race/ethnicity is coupled with a number representing the number of times this race/ethnicity is mentioned in the application forms. The outmost layers represent the highest-number mentions (Black, white, and African-American), the inner-most circle represents race/ethnicities only mentioned once. Credit info: Race/Ethnicity mentions from original applicant pool (Round two). Data visualization chart created by Gene Pendon (design) and Michèle Steinwald (data). Please contact the program team for the full text list of terms.

Download a PDF of this chart.

Dance Form and Genre Data

Similar visual structure as the race/ethnicity chart (i.e., higher mentions surround smaller circles of mentions which are the focal point), however the top circle holds a “super structure” with the terms traditional, contemporary, and modern, which applicants sometimes used as adjectives and sometimes as nouns. The terms within the super structure are not always the highest number of mentions as they have the potential to qualify a form, and in doing so, change the form dramatically (i.e., traditional African dance vs contemporary African dance). Applicants didn’t specify ratios to these terms so, for instance, various forms of dance may appear in their practice without one central form as the foundation or reversely one form mentioned may be primary to their practice while other mentions are merely meant as supporting methodologies and additional influences.
ID in caption

A chart of over 383 dance genres, forms, and techniques, layered in six concentric circles. Text that represents a dance genre is coupled with a number representing the number of times this genre is mentioned in the application forms. The outmost layers represent genres with the highest-number mentions, except for the largest circle which represents the terms that are used as either nouns or adjectives. The inner-most circle represents genre/forms only mentioned once. Credit info: Dance form/genre mentions from original applicant pool (Round two) Data visualization chart created by Gene Pendon (design) and Michèle Steinwald (data).

Download a PDF of this chart.

In Summary

In centering the most impacted, principles of social justice were applied in practice throughout the program. By tracking demographics as an accountability tool, the DFA program team was able to build a review process that reflected the ratios and specific diversity found in the applicant pool. The data reinforced the process of addressing equity and systemic biases embedded in culture at large.

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