The comedy ballet Coppélia, now in rehearsal at Ballet Mississippi, is the focus of  the first program in a new series the USA International Ballet Competition has launched to create more understanding and enjoyment of classical ballet.

Ballet BackStory: Coppélia set for noon Tuesday, March 24, at the Arts Center of Mississippi, 201 E. Pascagoula St., in downtown  Jackson.

  • David Keary, artistic director of Ballet Mississippi, will share insights into the history, choreography, story and music of the comedy his company will perform April 26 at Thalia Mara Hall.
  • Gerrie McElroy, costume mistress for Ballet Mississippi, will preview the peasant dresses and romantic tutus she has styled for the dancers.
  • Naomi Wilson, a Ballet Mississippi dancer, will comment on performing the role of Swanilda in the April production.
  • Video of a pas de deux from Coppélia, performed by Yasmin Lomondo and Gustavo Carvalho of Brazil, both bronze medalists and the Best Junior Couple in the USA International Ballet Competition.

“Understanding the story of a ballet enriches the experience of seeing variations performed,” said Mona Nicholas, executive director of the USA IBC. “So much of the repertoire for the competitors in the USA IBC are variations from the major classical ballets that are staged around the world—Giselle, Coppélia, La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and others. To help our community enjoy ballet more, and at the same time support Mississippi’s ballet companies in staging these classics, we are offering Ballet BackStory.”

Nicholas says that the Ballet BackStory series will serve as a bridge “from knowing nothing about ballet to appreciating the motivations, emotions and background experiences that influence each dancer’s movements and expressions on stage.”

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the USA IBC and includes lunch for $10. Please call 601-362-7125 or email by March 23 to RSVP.  Friends of the USA IBC serve as volunteers and assist with fundraising for the Jackson competition, held every four years.  Friends also support the USA IBC in its mission to expand the audience for classical dance.

The USA IBC plans to partner with other companies in the metro area and  state, presenting a BalletBackStory in conjunction with their performances of classics each spring, fall and holiday season.

For more information on Ballet BackStory or the Friends of the USA IBC, please call 601-355-9853.