Nickerson-Rossi Dance Is Building a Dance Festival Empire in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs Dance Festival, Southern California’s newest addition in festival dance programming, will open next weekend, March 2 through 4, with performances at the intimate Palm Springs Annenberg Theater. Developed by choreographer and Artistic Director Michael Nickerson-Rossi, and Darcy Carozza, founding PSDF producer and former managing director for the theater, the festival brings together professional concert performances, master classes, as well as public programming which begins Thursday March 2nd at the downtown outdoor stage and culminates on Saturday with master classes and six prestigious companies performing in The 360 Gala at the Annenberg Theater.

Nickerson-Rossi Dance in "DNA" photo by Arhscana

Nickerson-Rossi Dance in “DNA” photo by Arhscana

The festival which has had a long 3 year arc began to take shape in 2014 and gathered momentum with a repertory performance by Nickerson-Rossi Dance in 2016 at the Annenberg Theater. The company for the moment is a bicoastal entity producing work in residence for the newly established theater and performance center West Chester’s Uptown Theater in Pennsylvania. National, international, and local performances have made Nickerson-Rossi Dance into something of a globe-trotting phenomenon. The company, featuring principal dancer Chad Allen Ortiz, who is also the festival’s Director of Education, will be presenting the duo Second Skin on The “360” Gala evening performance. The work premiered in 2016 in Torino, Italy at the Teatro Regio. Second Skin, which examines the double-sided nature of the human mind, will be performed with Lorenzo Pagano, a current soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company.


Fire! Catherine Cabeen

Also on the Gala  program is Vertical Shadows Dance Company, an edgy Australian theater dance company. They specialize in non-conventional dance for non-conventional audiences. The company is based in Melbourne and is directed by Stephen Agisilaou. Dark Circles Contemporary Dance originally founded in Seoul, South Korea and now operates with a branch of the company in North Texas. DCCD is directed by choreographer/dancer Joshua L. Peugh who is familiar to Palm Spring audiences through his participation in the McCallum Theater Choreography Competition Festival performances. The company has performed at Jacob’s Pillow and international venues. Local participants include Kybele Dance Theater a contemporary dance ensemble directed by Seda Aybay. The company was also seen in the 2016 McCallum choreography competition festival. Completing the Gala program will be works by educator/choreographer, Lori Bryhni, a mentor of Mr. Nickerson-Rossi, and New York choreographer Catherine Cabeen with her interdisciplinary performance company, Hyphen.

Concerts begin on Thursday March 2nd with the Outdoor Stage performances in downtown Palm Springs, and continue Friday March 3rd at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center in Rancho Mirage. Dancing in the Rancho Mirage performances will be student ensembles from Rancho Mirage High School, Orange Coast College, Santa Monica College, Temecula Valley High, as well as local and East Coast dance training centers.

Nickerson-Rossi and Carozza have brought large scale planning to Palm Springs Dance Festival. While most area festivals have not been able to grow beyond the boundaries of studio and black box venues PSDF has imagined a community based festival that brings together the best of educational outreach, teaching , local and international companies, and exceptional venues. Tickets are available for all concert events. Company profiles,videos, programming and ticket sales information is available by visiting the Palm Springs Dance Festival website.

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