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NRD produces professional, educational, therapeutic, and community-centric dance programming.


NRD is on a mission to excite the arts community, nurture new and innovative programs, provide equitable access for youth to train and excel in dance, and provide opportunities for under-invited communities to experience dance at a high-caliber platform.


NRD works diligently to create the dance culture here in the Coachella Valley, making it a mecca for dance.


Founding Artistic Director 




Michael's dance journey began as a young man in grief. With the traumatic loss of his mother to cancer at the age of 17 and just a short few years later losing his father, Michael found himself enrolled at Modesto Junior College to focus on film and design. One of the early projects of his classes brought him to film the dance department's upcoming concert.

"Everything that I saw, was everything that I felt." - Michael Nickerson-Rossi

Michael instantly fell in love with dance, watching on stage the choreographic work of who would become one of his mentors, Lori Bryhni. Michael started with two left feet, late in the game, but with a mad passion set blaze with unshaken focus.

Michael launched and founded his dance company, “Nickerson-Rossi Dance,” in 2011. Touring as a professional contemporary dance company, Michael's work was sought after early in his professional career. 

Staying true to Michael's beginnings, he created The “uNdeRstanD program,” which was created to carry out Michael's mission for his outreach work. This program provides diverse and minority communities a platform to engage in dance, using it as an artistic expression that can unify the body as a tool when words are not enough.


His passion for impact has been felt by organizations such as the LGBTQ Center in Long Beach, Versa-Style P.E.C. in Los Angeles, Project Home in Philadelphia, Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, and Eisenhower Hospital LUCY CURCI Cancer Center.

Through his work, Michael found himself in Palm Springs, California where a local philanthropist in the Coachella Valley, Terri Ketover, saw Michael's work and commissioned the company to perform at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater in 2013. Michael was then motivated to create and provide educational experiences for the communities of Coachella Valley and began to work with the Palm Springs Unified School District under the Helene Galen Foundation for the following 3 years.   

His firm belief in charitable and educational benefits propelled Michael to incorporate his company into a non-profit 501c3. 


Michael's work brought him to the East Coast where he assumed the position of Creative Director of Dance at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

There, he built a modern/contemporary technique program and performance series at Princeton Ballet and became a founding faculty member at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory Maryland. While traveling between the East and West coasts Michael's teaching career collected numerous accolades --- now reaching over 30 other universities and colleges.


During his travels, Michael was commissioned a second time by the Palm Springs Art Museum where he produced his concert "Past & Present" in 2016. As an outgrowth of this program, he founded and produced the Palm Springs Dance Festival. The festival continued gaining momentum which led to an expansion and reformation, now, the Palm Springs International Dance Festival. The growth of the International Dance Festival inspired Michael to move to Palm Springs full-time in 2019.

A world pandemic plagued humanity in 2020 and every artist had to pivot.


Michael decided to establish the Palm Springs Dance Academy with the support of Dr. John and Laurie Bianchin. The Academy is the official school of the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company, where they provide comprehensive dance education for pre-professional dancers and serve the community with enrichment, outreach, and after-school dance programs. Nickerson-Rossi continued to build and opened the only dance theatre in the Coachella Valley, "Nickerson-Rossi's Dance House" in 2021. With rapid growth in the Coachella Valley, Nickerson-Rossi found himself partnering with multiple school districts, and private schools, and expanding additional facilities in Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs.

Michael has constructed an ecosystem of dance that is roaring with steam and energy, that all started from a dull flame in film class. He is an inspiration for the next generation by pioneering a path to find success and prosperity in the arts. 

NRD Annenberg Jan _PERFORMANCE NIGHT_00455.jpg


NRD Annenberg Jan _PERFORMANCE NIGHT_00455.jpg

The Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company found its mark when invited to the Cape Cod Dance Festival and was found on the playbill with Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor, American Ballet Theater, and Boston Ballet. Since then, the dance company has produced innovative and original contemporary dance works and has collaborated with unique institutions and corporate businesses throughout the United States and Europe such as Maserati, Porsche, Palm Springs Art Museum, New York Live Arts, Modernism Week, Sunnylands and the Annenberg Estate.


The Dance Company mainly performs repertoire choreographed by Michael Nickerson-Rossi but has also commissioned artists Sean Curran (Sean Curran Dance Co), Matthew Neeman (Ballet X), and Dante Puleio (Limon Dance Company) to set original works on the dance company.


Michael Nickerson-Rossi’s choreography is said to be filled with complex intricacies that unravel through a beautifully orchestrated mixture of artistic movement and emotional freedom. 

Today, the dance company is now also part of the educational faculty, administrative staff, and tour nationally.

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