McCallum Theatre to Host Annual Palm Desert Choreography Festival Nov. 11-12

City News Service

PALM DESERT (CNS) – The McCallum Theatre will host the annual Palm Desert Choreography Festival next weekend featuring competition, educational opportunities and awards.

The festival will get underway at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and at 4 p.m. Nov. 12, featuring a choreography competition in two divisions, workshops, residencies, over $50,000 in cash awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award to honor someone who has made contributions to dance, according to a statement from the McCallum Theatre.

“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,” festival producer and McCallum Vice President of Education Kajsa Thuresson-Frary said in a statement in August.

After looking through more than 100 submissions, 21 finalists were selected by a panel of dance professionals, according to theatre officials.

Competition will get underway the first night with the Professional Division competition, featuring 10 choreographers/companies from across the nation, Canada and Germany, according to theatre officials. Additionally, artistic director/choreographer/dancer Helgi Tomasson will take the stage and accept this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tomasson will be honored because of “his strong belief in honoring choreographers and challenging dancers and audiences to embrace new directions in dance,” theatre officials wrote in a statement. He is known for being an artistic director and principal choreographer for San Francisco Ballet from 1985 to 2022, transforming the company into one of the world’s greatest classical ballet companies.

Competition will continue the following day with the Pre-professional Division, featuring 11 choreographers/companies from across the nation, according to theatre officials. Student dancers from Desert Mirage and Coachella Valley high schools will also perform an original piece of choreography learned in the East Valley Dance Project Outreach program, in which students are able to explore and create with professional choreographers.

Since the festival began, it has attracted more than 40,000 people, placed 727 choreographers in the limelight and granted $748,175 in cash awards, theater officials said.

“Palm Desert is playing an important role in upholding the value of dance,” last year’s grand prize winner Omar Roman De Jesus said in a statement. “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.”

Tickets to the festival, starting at varying prices, can be purchased at

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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