The Dance World Will Come to Jackson, Mississippi, in 2023

The USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) will take the stage in Jackson, Mississippi, June 10-24, 2023. More than 100 dancers from around the world will
compete in Jackson for the 12th time on the stage at Thalia Mara Hall. The USA IBC is among the oldest and most prestigious international ballet competitions in the world.

The USA IBC competition was originally scheduled for June of 2022, but was rescheduled for 2023 when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted 2020 competitions planned for Helsinki, Finland, and Varna, Bulgaria.

“USA IBC leaders worked with our sister competitions in three countries to develop new, coordinated schedules and ensure that despite the pandemic, dancers who had trained for years would still be able to compete and the world would still have the opportunity to come together for these celebrations of art and athleticism,” said Mona Nicholas, USA IBC executive director.

The forced postponements of the 2020 competitions would have moved their new dates to within months of the 2022 Jackson competition. Having three major competitions within two months would have negatively impacted all three of the IBCs. The pool of competing dancers would have been diluted and ticket sales would have suffered; the sister competitions would have essentially been competing with each other.

Instead, the four competitions came together to work out a solution. USA IBC led the way by volunteering to reschedule its competition until 2023.

“Our partners in Varna, Moscow, and Helsinki shared our belief that we should work together to make the competitions accessible to as many gifted dancers and as many
global audience members as possible,” Nicholas said. “The pandemic affected the entire world, with countries closing borders and the arts temporarily dark. Now more than ever, the people of the world need art. We need events that unify us and remind us there is still beauty in the world. These competitions do just that.”

For more information about USA IBC or becoming a sponsor, visit or contact Mona Nicholas at or call 601-355-9853 x 4.

New Competition Schedule

2021 Moscow
2022 Helsinki and Varna
2023 Jackson
2024 Varna
2025 Moscow
2026 Helsinki and Varna
2027 Jackson
2028 Varna

Impact of USA IBC in Mississippi in 2018, the most recent competition year

Total Economic impact of $12.5 million

The event generated in-state spending of more than $9.3 million, a payroll impact of more than $2.8 million and contributed $416,491 to the state general fund through tax
revenues, for a combined economic impact approaching $12.5 million.

Additionally, there were:

  • 40,400 attendees during the two-week competition and related events;
  • Ticket holders from 35 states and 25 countries;
  • 400 million media impressions worldwide;
  • 100 competing dancers from 17 nations;
  • 92 dance students from 17 states and three countries; and
  • 600 volunteers.


USA IBC / Jackson
The dance world comes to Jackson because legendary dancer and instructor Thalia Mara (1911-2003) brought it here. In 1975, the Jackson Ballet Guild invited Mara, who was then living and working in New York, to develop a professional ballet company and school for the state of Mississippi. As part of her developmental plan, Mara worked with city leaders to secure the USA IBC for the city of Jackson.

The first USA IBC was held in 1979, featuring 70 dancers from 15 countries. Robert Joffrey, renowned artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, chaired the first international panel of jurors. In 1982, the United States Congress passed a Joint Resolution designating Jackson the official home of the International Ballet Competition.

Subsequent competitions have earned an ever-growing number of dancer applications and worldwide acclaim. Over the competition’s 40-plus-year history, many USA IBC
medalists have gone on to dance as principals in major international companies. The storied careers of Grand Prix Winners Nina Ananiashvili, Andris Liepa, Johan Kobborg,
and José Manuel Carreño were launched in Jackson. USA IBC alumni, including Jeffrey Cirio, Sarah Lane, Christine Shevchenko, Daniil Simkin, Misa Kuranaga, Isaac
Hernandez, and Jurgita Dronina, are helping to shape the ballet world today.

Varna IBC
Established in 1964, Varna IBC is the oldest event of its kind in the world. As a pioneer of the International Ballet Competitions movement, Varna IBC has set the highest
professional standards, and was later followed by the establishment of similar competitions in Moscow, Jackson, Helsinki, Lausanne, New York, Perm, Seoul,
Shanghai, and other locations.

For over half a century, Varna IBC has discovered and nurtured such legendary dancers as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vladimir Vasiliev, Natalia Makarova, Maximiliano Guerra,
Aurelie Dupont, Vladimir Malakhov, Sylvie Guillem and Patrick Dupond. Some of the laureates have joined the Varna IBC’s prestigious jury, alongside Galina Ulanova, Yuri
Grigorovich, Serge Lifar, Alicia Alonso, and Robert Joffrey.

Moscow IBC
The Moscow IBC was established in 1969 and has been celebrated ever since as one of the world’s most important and prestigious ballet competitions. Staged at the world-famous Bolshoi Theater, Moscow IBC is recognized as a serious platform for young dancers. Legendary choreographer Yuri Grigorovich has served as the permanent chairman of the jury and artistic director of the competition since 1973.

Helsinki IBC
The Helsinki International Ballet Competition was founded by Professor Doris Laine-Almi, a former prima ballerina and director of the Finnish National Ballet. Professor Laine-Almi was inspired to found the Helsinki event after serving on the juries of international ballet competitions in Jackson, Moscow, and Varna. The first Helsinki IBC
took place in 1984. The home of the HIBC is the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

Jackson, Varna, Moscow, and Helsinki are members of the International Federation of Ballet Competitions (IFBC), an organization founded in 2005 to coordinate international competitive activities and help young dancers develop their careers. IFBC includes 18 international ballet competitions.