Worth the drive: USA International Ballet Competition welcomes dancers to Jackson


Gisele Bethea, 2014 USA International Ballet Competition junior women's gold medalist, dances with Michal Wozniak in

Gisele Bethea, 2014 USA International Ballet Competition junior women's gold medalist, dances with Michal Wozniak in "Sleeping Beauty." The USA IBC, founded by Thalia Mara, has been held every four years in Jackson since 1979.
Photo by: Courtesy photo



Special to The Dispatch



JACKSON -- The USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) welcomes 100 competitors from 17 nations to Jackson as the official international ballet competition for the United States kicks off Sunday. Held every four years in Jackson, the 11th USA IBC continues through June 23.


"Showcasing artistic excellence, the USA IBC is a platform for dancers to test their skills against the highest international standards," said Mona Nicholas, USA IBC executive director. "Jackson is respected as a prestigious competition that launches dance careers. We anticipate a thrilling competition."


Dancers compete in two divisions: Junior, ages 14 to 18, and Senior, ages 19-28. The United States has the highest number of invited dancers, followed by Japan. Other nations represented are Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.



Medals, company contracts, apprenticeships, scholarships and more than $150,000 in prizes will be awarded. All dancers who advance to Round 3 will receive $1,500.


The June 10 USA IBC opening ceremony will honor the late Robert Joffrey, jury chairman for the first three Jackson competitions, and feature Joffrey Ballet dancers in performance. The evening begins with the Parade of Nations, competitors carrying the flags of their countries, and the lighting of the official torch by Jury Chairman John Meehan. Kathy Thibodeaux, founder and artistic director of Ballet Magnificat and the only Mississippian to ever win a medal in the USA IBC, will carry the torch to the stage.


The USA IBC Arts & Lecture Series will mark the bicentennial of choreographer Marius Petipa's birth with a presentation by Alexei Ratmansky of American Ballet Theatre. Ratmansky also will demonstrate Petipa choreography in a workshop with USA IBC competitors. USA IBC National Honorary Chairman Edward Villella will lecture on dancing for George Balanchine at New York City Ballet. Olga Guardia de Smoak, an organizer of the landmark Ballet Russes reunion in 2000, will speak on the history of Ballet Russes and the making of the documentary that will be shown in the USA IBC Film Series.


Concurrent with the competition, the USA IBC Dance School welcomes 100 students from around the country to a two-week ballet intensive at Belhaven University.


For a complete competition schedule, visit usaibc.com/attend. For tickets, visit usaibc.tix.com, call the box office at 601-973-9249 or visit the box office at Thalia Mara Hall.


For more information, contact Brenda Trigg at 601-355-9853, ext. 5, or email [email protected]




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