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USA IBC is a two-week “olympic-style” competition for top young dancers and a major stepping stone toward a professional career.
Competitors from all over the world vie for gold, silver and bronze medals; cash prizes; and company contracts. The audience is filled with company directors interested in hiring dancers, and for this reason, many dancers leave with jobs—possibly the grandest prize of all.
Founded in 1978 by Thalia Mara, the first USA International Ballet Competition took place in 1979 and joined the ranks of Varna, Bulgaria (1964); Moscow, Russia (1969); and Tokyo, Japan (1976). These first competitions were given sanction by the International Dance Committee of UNESCO’s International Theater Institute. Later, Helsinki, Finland replaced Tokyo and international ballet competitions now flourish worldwide. The USA IBC in Jackson remains one of the oldest and most respected competitions in the world. In 1982, the United States Congress passed a Joint Resolution designating Jackson as the official home of the USA International Ballet Competition. Jackson held subsequent competitions in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.