McCallum Theatre Education will present exciting original choreography by choreographers from across the nation and abroad at the annual Palm Desert Choreography Festival. This one of a kind festival, scheduled for Saturday, November 11th at 7pm and Sunday, November 12th at 4pm continues to promote dance as an art form by creating a platform for emerging and established choreographers and developing new dance audiences. The Festival features a choreography competition in two divisions, educational opportunities including workshops and residencies, and honors those who have made outstanding contributions to dance through a Lifetime Achievement Award. The City of Palm Desert is the Presenting Sponsor for the Festival.

Tickets for the Division I performance on Saturday, November 11th, 7:00 p.m. are $25/35/50. Tickets for the Division II performance on Sunday, November 12th, 4:00 p.m. are $20/30/40. Tickets are available now at the McCallum Theatre Box Office by calling 760-340-2787, online at or by walk-up. Underwriting opportunities ranging from $250 to $10,000 are available and help make it possible to bring the Festival to our community. All underwriters receive tickets to the Festival, along with recognition and invitations to Festival events, based on giving level. For more information about becoming an underwriter, contact Tom Head, Associate VP of Development at 760-776-6164 or

This year’s Finalists were selected after a rigorous screening process by a panel of dance professionals from over 100 submissions. Participating artists come from across the nation, Germany and Canada and will perform before an audience and a panel of judges. Over $50,000.00 in cash awards are up for grabs and winners are announced at the conclusion of each performance. Finalists include festival favorites as well as a large number of choreographers new to the Festival whose works promise to engage, provoke and entertain. Now in its 26th year, the Festival has attracted over 40,000 audience members, placed 727 choreographers in the limelight and granted $748,175 in cash awards.

“Each year we look forward to welcoming choreographers and dancers from near and far,” says Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, Festival producer and McCallum’s Vice President of Education. “A multi-dimensional initiative, our Festival highlights quality work, nurtures emerging artists, educates local dancers and choreographers, and powerfully engages audiences around dance in the Coachella Valley. Preparing for our 26th Festival, we are privileged to work with a dynamic team, including Festival founder Shea New, and enjoy the support of a large group of Festival underwriters, the City of Palm Desert, volunteers, community members — all who think dance belongs right here at the heart of community life!”

“Palm Desert is playing an important role in upholding the value of dance,” said 2022 Grand Prize winner Omar Roman De Jesus. “Presenting work in a theater at full capacity is always a gift, particularly given how much live performance has been impacted over the past few years.”

Choreographers/companies featured in the Professional Division on Saturday, November 11th are Arthur Bernard-Bazin/Candelaria Antelo (Quebec, Canada); Franco Nieto/Open Space Dance (Portland, OR); Jessica Liu/Albert Galindo (Germany); Nicole Haskins/Smuin Contemporary Ballet (San Francisco ,CA); Allen Xing/Xing Dance Theater (Baltimore, MD); Joshua Manculich/Whirlwind Dance Company (Columbus, OH); Mate Szentes (Huntington Beach, CA); Joy Bollinger/Bruce Wood Dance (Dallas, TX); Carly Topazio/The Rosin Box Project (Los Angeles, CA) and Christina Ghiardi/Nevada Ballet Theatre (Las Vegas, NV).

Choreographers/companies featured in the Pre-professional Division on Sunday, November 12th are Keithan Haver/Broadway Dance Theatre (Greenbrook, NJ); Charlotte Griffin (Irvine, CA); Mia Seleno (Huntington Beach, CA); Mary Ann Mayer/Ocean State Ballet (East Providence, RI); Lauren Blair Smith/ Lauren Blair Smith Dance Company (Foster City, CA); Gunta Liepina-Miller/The Premier Ballet School of Orange County (Tustin, CA); Simone Gadlin/Simone Knowelle Dance Theater (Philadelphia, PA); Rochelle Mapes/Mater Dei Dance Conservatory (Orange, CA); Ye Li/Oregon International Ballet Academy (Portland, OR); Cristina McKeever-Chaney/Palm Springs Dance Academy (Palm Springs, CA) and MJ/Innovative Dance Company (New York, NY).

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to artistic director, choreographer and dancer Helgi Tomasson. As artistic director and principal choreographer for San Francisco Ballet from 1985-2022, Mr. Tomasson spearheaded a powerful transformation of the company from respected regional troupe to one of the world’s great classical ballet companies. His inspired leadership brought SF Ballet to a place of recognition for its innovative focus on new and contemporary choreography, ongoing support of emerging choreographers and the next generation of dancers, and deeply held dedication to the classics. During his performing career, Tomasson was a brilliant, internationally acclaimed professional ballet dancer who danced with many prestigious ballet companies including New York City Ballet. His strong belief in honoring choreographers and challenging dancers and audiences to embrace new directions in dance is why we honor Helgi Tomasson with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award who will take the stage and accept the award in conjunction with the Festival performance/competition on Saturday, November 11th.

Palm Desert Choreography Festival also includes the dynamic East Valley Dance Project outreach program in its 17th year. This project gives student dancers from Desert Mirage and Coachella Valley High Schools in Thermal an opportunity to explore and create with professional choreographers. Participants in the projects will learn an original piece of choreography and perform on the McCallum stage in conjunction with the Division II performance on November 12th at 4:00pm.

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