The USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) has welcomed 100 competitors from 17 nations to Jackson as the official International Ballet Competition for the United States kicked off yesterday. Held every four years in Jackson, the 11th USA IBC continues through June 23rd.
“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 10th 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. Edward Villella, USA IBC National Honorary Chairman, 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. Victoria Rockhill Schneider of The HARID Conservatory will conduct the USA IBC Teacher Training Program, focusing on the School of Russian Classical Dance, in the Mississippi Arts Center.