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Choreography Festival
part 1 - professional companies




Celebrates 15 years

Saturday & Sunday – November 10 & 11

Palm Desert, CA – McCallum Theatre Institute will present exciting original choreography by choreographers from across the nation at the 15th Annual Choreography Festival. This one of a kind festival, scheduled for Saturday, November 10th at 7pm and Sunday, November 11th at 4pm strives to promote dance as an art form by creating a venue for emerging and established choreographers and developing new dance audiences. The Festival features a choreography competition in two divisions, educational opportunities such as workshops and residencies, and honors those who have made outstanding contributions to dance through a Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year’s Finalists were selected from 109 submissions from all over the country and will perform before an audience and a panel of judges to win over $26,000.00 in cash awards and a paid engagement. Finalists include 2011 Grand Prize winner Petr Zahradnicek of Milwaukee Ballet Company and other Festival favorites and award winners such as Jennifer Backhaus of Backhausdance, Will Johnston of ENTITY and Nichelle Bane of Reflections Dance Company. The choreographies of these Festival favorites as well as those being introduced to the valley’s dance audience, promise to engage, provoke and entertain.

The Choreography Festival founded by artistic director, Shea New, was begun in 1998 in association with the City of Palm Desert and The College of the Desert and has been incorporated and produced by The McCallum Theatre Institute since 2002. Over the past 15 years the Choreography Festival has greatly supported choreographers, dancers and community members. See the stats listed below.

516 Choreographers whose work has been presented

531 Pieces of Choreography

$429,500 Cash Awarded

9 Paid Engagements

Over 22,800 Audience Members

2,270 Workshop/Residency Participants

13 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Los Angeles Ballet Artistic Directors, Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen. The company, founded in 2004, is known for authentic stagings of the Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets and world premieres of cutting-edge new works, and has become recognized as a world-class ballet company. Both Neary and Christensen have contributed greatly to the dance world. Among Christensen’s many credentials are an impressive performing career, successful leadership of one of the world's major ballet companies – The Royal Danish Ballet, critically applauded original choreography, and a proven commitment to dance education. Neary also has a very extensive performing career and brings to Los Angeles Ballet the benefits of her vast experience as one of George Balanchine's quintessential ballerinas and as a guardian of his style and choreography. Both Neary and Christensen danced with New York City Ballet.

Dynamic Festival outreach projects include the East Valley Dance Project, now in its 6th year and The 2nd Annual Studio Project. These projects give dancers from local studios and students from Desert Mirage High and Toro Canyon Middle Schools in Thermal an opportunity to explore and create with Jennifer Backhaus, artistic director of Orange County’s contemporary modern dance company, Backhausdance. 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 11th at 4:00pm.

McCallum Theatre presents the 15th Annual Choreography Festival, featuring professional dance companies on Saturday, November 10 at 7pm. Tickets now selling at $30/25/20/15. The Festival continues on Sunday, November 11 at 4pm, featuring pre-professional dance companies, with tickets now selling at $25/20/15/10. Order your tickets online at or by calling the McCallum Theatre Box Office at 760-340-2787. McCallum Theatre, located at 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert CA 92260, accepts payment by cash, personal check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

“To be recognized by such an esteemed organization is a distinction I will treasure.”

Nigel Lythgoe

“The quality and caliber of finalists is outstanding, as is the level and brilliance of performance.”

Donald McKayle

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