By all accounts, the arts can inspire, unite, and often strengthen communities. To that end, Palm Springs Dance Project is taking bold creative leaps in doing that by generating dance creation, presentation, and education that inspires youth and others.
The 2022 season has been a fine example of that. Three dance programs were featured going into the season. One remains: “The Connoisseur Club,” a festive evening from Artistic Director Stephen Agisilaou on Nov. 19 at Indian Canyons Golf Resort.
The outing features 10 dancers and three innovative choreographers in an immersive installation show where every seat offers its own unique experience.
“That event is a first in many ways,” says Darcy Carozza, Founder, Executive Director, and Producer of Palm Springs Dance Project. “The professional programs we’ve presented so far have been in a theater environment. This will be our first immersive experience. So, we’re very excited about a new dimension of experiencing it. We’re also featuring local dancers that have been dancing at a pre-professional level here. They’ve grown up here, they’ve trained here, and they’re beautiful movers and dancers. We’re excited to provide an opportunity for them, and to show the community how talented these people are.”
Following the Nov. 19 event, the organization will offer about six to eight community dance classes at a very low cost on Nov. 20. Think of these as accessible master classes by top dancing artists.
Palm Springs Dance Project sprang from Corozza’s vision back in 2017, when she was managing director of the Annenberg Theatre.
“I’d been inspired by dance and dance programming happening in the desert, but it was in the silos—very beautiful little silos—but we didn’t have a community of dance that was working together or making it super accessible,” she says.
Palm Springs Dance Festival arose, the first event of that kind, which Corozza admits was a kind of “seedling experiment.” Things evolved after that and by 2021, the focus—and the name—shifted as things ventured toward 501(c)(3) status and providing programs as a nonprofit.
Through live performances, film presentations, and education and community engagement, Palm Springs Dance Project now prospers. Professional dance offerings bring local and international dance artists into the spotlight in innovative and unconventional venues. Between its film presentations and live events, audiences experience and/or discover new aspects to dance and its talented figures.
Recently, Palm Springs Dance Project received a grant from Inland Empire Community Foundation through the Sheffer/Scheffler Fund.
Carozza says the resources, which were part of a matching grant, will help the organization with its fundraising and scholarships efforts assisting underserved youth with new creative opportunities, such as dance lessons.
“We’ll also create free community programming, which includes what we call ‘training to performance,’” Carozza notes. “This integrates the community to make dance accessible to all members; to expose them to inspiring dance artists they haven’t had an opportunity to work with before.”
In addition, the organization’s collaborations with local dance studios, public schools, and other community partners generate further opportunities to explore new ideas.
“What I’d really love people to know is that we’re an organization made of, by, and for the community,” Carozza stresses. “We’re not a dance troupe, or a dance academy. We exist solely to create an accessible environment of dance for our community. So many studies concur that dance is healing and transformative, and good for youth. It can give them structure, help develop characteristics that make them strong individuals, and in terms of finishing school, it helps in being a productive citizen—self-discipline, motivation, learning how to collaborate. All those things. Dance can also help with mental anguish and expression.
“That’s what we’re here for,” she adds. “We’re here to enrich the community and make it stronger and more united.”
For more information on Palm Springs Dance Project, visit palmspringsdance.org.
This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun, September 2022.
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