2023 USA International Ballet Competition Announces International Jury Members, Unveils Commemorative Poster And Commissioned Sculpture & Reveals Dance School Details


Jackson, Miss. (October 31,2022) – The USA International Ballet Competition has announced the members of the International Jury for the 12th USA IBC to be held June 10 – 24, 2023 at Thalia Mara Hall.

John Meehan, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, will chair the 2023 jury for the third time. “The USA IBC is about more than medals,” said Meehan. “It’s a celebration of dance that reflects the highest standards of artistic excellence.” Other jurors will be Paloma Herrera, Argentina; Frank Andersen, Denmark; Hae Shik Kim, Korea; Angel Corella, Spain; Lauren Anderson, USA; Ashley Wheater, United Kingdom; Feng Ying, China; Stanton Welch, Australia; Robert Curran, Australia; and André Lewis, Canada.

  Meehan also announced the USA IBC will waive application fees for dancers from Ukraine and help with airline and other expenses if they are selected to compete in the 2023 USA IBC. “We want to help these talented young dancers who have been misplaced to advance their careers amidst the pain they are experiencing with what is happening now in their country,” said Meehan.   

The 2023 USA IBC commemorative poster features a painting by the late artist Andrew Bucci. Mr. Bucci’s work was also chosen for the poster in 2014. Mona Nicholas, USA IBC Executive Director said, “It was an obvious choice. Mr. Bucci would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year and we wanted to commemorate his centennial year by choosing him as the official artist. He loved ballet and it clearly shows through the movement displayed in his work.” The official poster is sponsored by BankPlus.

A steel sculpture, by New York artist Jack Howard – Potter titled “Dancer 12” will be a permanent fixture on the plaza of Thalia Mara Hall and commemorates the 12th time the competition will be held in Jackson, Mississippi. This commissioned public art is sponsored by Downtown Jackson Partners.

David Keary, Ballet Mississippi artistic director and a former New York City Ballet dancer, will direct the 2023 USA IBC Dance School, held concurrently with the competition. Faculty members include Tatiana Tchernova, Lawrence Jackson, Charles Askegard, Lisa Johnson – Willingham, Gretchen Newburger – Bernard, Valerie Madonia, and Lisa Hess Jones. All classes will be held in the state-of-the-art dance studios of Belhaven University. Applications open November 7, 2022.

During the second week of the 2023 competition, London’s Royal Ballet School will present its Inspire series. A six-day program for ballet teachers that explores the foundations of classical ballet technique, more advanced elements of technique and artistry and good teaching practice.

The USA IBC was founded by Thalia Mara and the first competition was held in Jackson in 1979. The USA IBC is the official international ballet competition in the United States by Joint Resolution of Congress. The 2023 USA IBC will welcome applicants ages 15 to 28, in keeping with sister competitions in Helsinki, Varna, and Moscow. Approximately 100 dancers will be invited to compete from more than 300 applicants. Applications opened on October 3, 2022, and close on February 16, 2023.

More information about the 2023 USA IBC is available at usaibc.com. ###


Offers extended to 2018 USA IBC medalists, competitors

As the 11th USA International Ballet Competition ended in June, 18 young dancers received medals and other awards. Most of these winners and 13 additional Jackson competitors also have received contract, traineeship or scholarship offers from 14 prestigious ballet companies and schools.

“Dancers come to Jackson to test themselves against the highest international ballet standards and to be seen by artistic directors who are looking to add to their companies,” Mona Nicholas, executive director, stated. “We are pleased to announce that dancers received at least 44 offers following their experience at the USA IBC.”

Companies and the invitations extended were:

American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, company membership for the 2018-2019 season:

  • Rheya Shano, Junior Bronze Medalist
  • Kanon Kimura, Semifinalist
  • Maddison Goodman

Atlanta Ballet 

  • Company contract: Katherine Barkman, Senior Silver Medalist
  • Apprenticeships: Nicole Barroso, Jury Encouragement Award winner; Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist; Emma Guertin and Fuki Takahashi
  • Atlanta Ballet 2 position: Mya Kresynak, Robert Joffrey Award winner
  • Summer intensive scholarships: Alexa Torres and Katherine Stevens

Ballet West 

  • Company contracts: Chisako Oga, Senior Bronze Medalist; Ryo Munakata, Finalist
  • Traineeships: Diego Altamirano, Semifinalist, and Luke Westerman
  • Ballet West II: Joseph Markey, Junior Bronze Medalist, and Derek Drilon

Ballet X, summer intensive scholarship:

  • Avery Tessmer

Colorado Ballet Academy, scholarships to the pre-professional division:

  • Stephen Myers, Finalist
  • Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist

Columbia Classical Ballet

  • Traineeships: Hyuma Kiyosawa, Junior Silver Medalist: Harold Mendez, Junior Bronze Medalist
  • Full-tuition school scholarship: Alexandra Manuel, Finalist

Columbia City Ballet

  • Contracts: Stephen Myers, Finalist; Alexas Torres and Princess Reid
  • Scholarships: Joseph Markey, Junior Bronze Medalist; Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist; and Arthur Erlanson

Houston Ballet, scholarships for Houston Ballet Academy professional division, summer intensive and Houston Ballet II contract:

  • Elisabeth Beyer, Junior Gold Medalist
  • Carolyne Galvao and Julia Rust, Junior Silver Medalists
  • Rheya Shano and Tia Wenkman, Junior Bronze Medalists
  • Alexandra Manuel, Finalist
  • Mya Kresnyak, Joffrey Merit Award winner
  • Hyuma Kiyosawa, Junior Silver Medalist
  • Joseph Markey, Junior Bronze Medalist

Nashville Ballet

  • Contract with Nashville Ballet II: Stephen Myers, Finalist
  • Full scholarship to 2019 summer intensive: Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist

Perm Ballet School offered a full scholarship to Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist.

The Joffrey Ballet and Joffrey Academy of Dance

  • Contracts: Sangmin Lee and Soobin Lee, Senior Silver Medalists/Best Couple; Julia Rust, Junior Silver Medalist; Derek Drilon and Princess Reid
  • Scholarships: Nicole Barroso and Razmik Marukyan, Jury Encouragement Award winners; Hyuma Kiyosawa, Junior Silver Medalist; Tia Wenkman, Junior Bronze Medalist; Albjon Gjorllaku and Stephen Myers, Finalists; and Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist

The Washington Ballet/TWB School

  • Scholarships: Diego Altamirano, Semifinalist; Harold Mendez, Junior Bronze Medalist; Rheya Shano and Tia Wenkman, Junior Bronze Medalists; Mya Kresnyak, Robert Joffrey Merit Award winner; Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist; Maddison Goodman; Alexandra Gray; Lucy Hassman; Avery Tessmer; and Luke Westerman
  • Traineeships: Dulguun Battsengel, Semifinalist; Sangmin Lee, Senior Silver Medalist; and Boris Ceballos

Tulsa Ballet

  • Apprentice contract: Alexa Torres
  • Full trainee scholarships: Isaac Mueller, Semifinalist; Stephen Myers, Finalist; Maddison Goodman; Alexandra Gray; Yaman Kelemet
  • Scholarships for the school year: Jaden Grimm and Lucy Hassman

Royal Winnipeg Ballet, school scholarships:

  • Jaden Grimm
  • Mya Kresnyak, Robert Joffrey Merit Award winner
  • Yujin Park, Finalist
  • Avery Underwood


And the winners are…

The Jury has made its decisions, selecting the following dancers as medalists and winners of other awards at the XI USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. These dancers have been notified that they have won a prize and will perform in tonight’s Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Awards Gala. In tonight’s awards ceremony, they will find out which prizes they have won.

Armenia – Razmik Marukyan, Junior Men Brazil – Carolyne Galvao, Junior Women Canada – Mya Kresnyak, Junior Women China – Yunting Qiu, Senior Women; Sicong Wu – Senior Men Japan – Hyuma Kiyosawa, Junior Men Philippines – Veronica Atienza Republic of Korea – Sangmin Lee, Senior Men; Soobin Lee, Senior Women USA – Katherine Barkman, Senior Women; Chisako Oga, Senior Women; Elisabeth Beyer, Junior Women; Julia Rust, Junior Women; Rheya Shano, Junior Women; Tia Wenkman, Junior Women; David Schrenk, Senior Men; Joseph Markey, Junior Men; Harold Mendez, Junior Men

Share their victories and see them dance the Jury’s favorite selections at 7:30 p.m. Thalia Mara Hall. Tickets are at usaibc.tix.com.  


USA IBC invites 119 dancers to compete in Jackson

JACKSON, Mississippi (March 14, 2018) – USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) officials announced today that 119 competitors from 19 nations have been invited to compete in the 2018 USA IBC, the official international ballet competition of the United States by a Joint Resolution of Congress. Held every four years in Jackson, Mississippi, the upcoming USA IBC is slated for June 10-23, 2018.

“The USA IBC showcases artistic excellence and provides a platform for dancers to test their skills against the highest international standards,” said Mona Nicholas, USA IBC executive director. “We anticipate a thrilling competition that will be life-changing for participants and exciting for audiences. Jackson is respected as a prestigious competition that launches dance careers.”

For the 2018 event, 53 of the selected competitors are juniors, ages 14 to 18, and 66 are seniors, ages 19-28. The United States has the highest number of competitors invited (52), followed by Japan (23) and Korea (14). Other countries represented by the selected competitors are Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. See the full list here.

More than $150,000 in cash prizes will be awarded in addition to gold, silver and bronze medals; company contracts; apprenticeships and scholarships. All finalists (dancers who advance to Round 3 of the competition) will receive a $1,500 stipend.

The 2018 USA IBC—the 11th since 1979—will honor the legacy of Robert Joffrey, jury chairman for the first three Jackson competitions, with an opening ceremony performance by dancers appearing courtesy of the Joffrey Ballet. Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater will join members of the Gerald Arpino-Robert Joffrey Foundation in a presentation on Robert Joffrey, and the foundation’s Charthel Estner will conduct a master class in Joffrey’s teaching style. Alexei Ratmansky will be a featured speaker in the competition’s Arts & Lecture Series, presenting “200 Years of Petipa” to mark the bicentennial of Marius Petipa’s birth. Ratmansky will conduct demonstrations of Petipa choreography in the USA IBC Dance School, held concurrently with the competition. Edward Villella, National Honorary Chairman, will lecture on dancing for Balanchine. Olga Guardia de Smoak, a New Orleans organizer of the landmark Ballet Russes reunion in 2000, will lecture on the history of Ballet Russes and the making of the documentary that also will be shown. Victoria Rockhill Schneider of The HARID Conservatory will conduct the 2018 Teacher Training Program, focusing on the teaching of the School of Russian Classical Dance. For tickets visit www.usaibc.tix.com.

Medalists Announced for USA IBC XI

JACKSON, Miss., June 22, 2018 – Following two weeks of intense, world-class competition, 18 dancers from eight nations were selected as 2018 USA International Ballet Competition medalists and award recipients.

Senior Division Medalists are:

Men’s Senior Gold Medalist – Sicong Wu, China

Women’s Senior Gold Medalist – Yunting Qiu, China

Men’s Senior Silver Medalist – Sangmin Lee, Republic of Korea

Women’s Senior Silver Medalist – Soobin Lee, Republic of Korea

Women’s Senior Silver Medalist – Katherine Barkman, USA

Men’s Senior Bronze Medalist – David Schrenk, USA

Women’s Senior Bronze Medalist – Chisako Oga, USA

Best Senior Couple – Soobin Lee & Sangmin Lee, Republic of Korea

Junior Division Medalists are:

Men’s Junior Gold Medalist – No gold awarded

Women’s Junior Gold Medalist – Elisabeth Beyer, USA

Men’s Junior Silver Medalist – Hyuma Kiyosawa, Japan

Women’s Junior Silver Medalist – Julia Rust, USA

Women’s Junior Silver Medalist – Carolyne Galvao, Brazil

Men’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Harold Mendez, USA

Men’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Joseph Markey, USA

Women’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Tia Wenkman, USA

Women’s Junior Bronze Medalist – Rheya Shano, USA

Special Awards included:

Robert Joffrey Award of Merit – Mya Kresnyak, Canada

Jury Award of Encouragement – Veronica Atienza, Philippines

Jury Award of Encouragement – Nicole Klaudine Barroso, Philippines

Jury Award of Encouragement – Razmik Marukyan, Armenia

Choreography Award – Zhang Disha for “Sad Birds,” performed by Sicong Wu & Yunting Qiu

Choreography Award – Fei Bo for “Permanent Yesterday,” performed by Sicong Wu & Yunting Qiu

For videos of classical performances from 2018 and previous USA IBCs, download order form here. 

The USA IBC is a two-week, “Olympic”-style competition where tomorrow’s stars vie for gold, silver and bronze medals; cash awards; company contracts; and scholarships. The event is designated as the official international ballet competition in the United States by a Joint Resolution of Congress. Presented under the auspices of the International Dance Committee, International Theatre Institute of UNESCO, the USA IBC is held every four years in Jackson, Mississippi. For more information about USA IBC, visit www.usaibc.com or www.facebook.com/usaibc.

Mississippi Arts Commission grants USA IBC $26,100

The USA International Ballet Competition has been awarded a $26,100 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the $1.5 million in grants the Commission will award in 2016-2017 and will be used to help with operating expenses for the USA IBC, designated the official international ballet competition within the United States by Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress.

“Organizations that support the arts play a pivotal role in growing Mississippi’s creative economy,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support their work, which reinforces the value of the arts for communities and for the economic development of our state.”

The USA IBC’s two-week festival of dance transforms Jackson into an international center of dance every four years. The 2014 event generated a combined economic impact of $12.1 million, according to a study conducted by the University of Southern Mississippi. The 11th USA IBC, to be held June 9-24, 2018, is expected to again draw competitors from at least 20 nations and ticket buyers from across the nation and around the world.

Throughout each school year, the USA IBC provides free ballet instruction and dance wear for approximately 65 Jackson Public Schools students. In July 2016, the USA IBC presented a performance by prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia in its Grand Prix Reunion Gala held at Thalia Mara Hall.

The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education; and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson; and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in education.

For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Melia Dicker, Communications, 601-359-6546 or mdicker@arts.ms.gov.


John Meehan joins USA IBC as 2018 International Jury Chair

Known throughout the ballet world for his contributions as a dancer, artistic director, choreographer and teacher, John Meehan will chair the jury for the 11th USA International Ballet Competition set for June 2018 in Jackson, Mississippi.

“I am thrilled and honored to be invited to chair the jury,” said Meehan, who served on  the 2010 and 2014 Jackson jury panels. “I know the responsibility we jurors carry in maintaining the standards of this tremendously prestigious competition.”

In announcing the 2018 jury chair, Mona Nicholas, USA IBC executive director, cited Meehan’s artistic accomplishments and global network as  important factors in his selection.

“John has danced the world’s great stages, and his choreography is in the repertoire of major ballet companies, where many of his former students also perform,” she said. “His active engagement in the international dance community will be an asset as we continue to earn our status as one of the world’s most respected ballet competitions.”

Meehan made his first trip to Jackson for the 1986 USA IBC. One of two competitors he brought from Australia, Sian Stokes, won the senior women’s silver medal that year, and Jackson won Meehan’s respect. “I was thinking maybe the competition would not be that useful, but I totally changed my mind when I saw the level of competition and the organization. The sense of people coming together from all over the world was powerful and meant much more than just dancing for a medal. I left with a totally different idea of what an international ballet competition is.”

He returned to the USA IBC in 2006 as master of ceremonies before serving on juries for the 9th and 10th competitions. The Australian-born Meehan also has adjudicated Youth America Grand Prix and Prix de Lausanne, where he twice served as president.

Meehan danced as a principal with the Australian Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and was a frequent guest artist with the New York City Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. He partnered legendary ballerinas including Dame Margot Fonteyn, Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Karen Kain and the Australian stars Marilyn Rowe and Marilyn Jones. Ballets he has choreographed are in the repertoire of the Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Washington Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera Company, the Hong Kong Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He was artistic director of Royal Winnipeg Ballet in the early 1990s and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company from 1997 to 2006. His former ABT Studio Company students are principal dancers in ABT, New York City Ballet, the Royal Ballet Covent Garden, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, Boston Ballet and the Houston Ballet. He has taught and rehearsed repertoire for ABT, the Joffrey Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and others. Invited to teach dance at Vassar College in 2005-2006, he traveled to Hong Kong and was appointed artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet in July 2006. He returned to Vassar in 2009 as dance professor and director of Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre. He was named to the Frances Daly Fergusson Chair in the Humanities in 2013 and is chair of the Vassar Dance Department.

“John brings not only a wealth of knowledge from a stellar performing career with the Australian Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, he more importantly brings a keen eye for talent and potential in young dancers. For decades John has dedicated himself to nurturing and advising young talent, both dancers and choreographers, as they navigate their way through the burden of realizing their potential. And he does it with grace and charm. He is a great spokesman for the art form.”

Kevin McKenzie, American Ballet Theatre

“I have the deepest respect for John. He is a man of passion and integrity. The dancers involved with the competition will benefit greatly from his service as jury chair.”

Ashley Wheater, The Joffrey Ballet

Announcing 2014 USA IBC Award Winners

Jackson, Miss., June 27, 2014 – Two weeks of intense, world-class competition culminated today with the announcement of 28 dancers selected as 2014 USA International Ballet Competition award winners.

Edward Villella, 2014 USA IBC International Jury Chairman, noted that the competition is a global celebration of dance and the “finest of the finest.”  Winners are listed below by division or award.

2014 USA International Ballet Competition Medalists

Men’s Senior Gold Medalist –Jeong Hansol, Republic of Korea

Women’s Senior Gold Medalist –Shiori  Kase, Japan

Men’s Senior Silver Medalist –Byul Yun, Republic of Korea

Women’s Senior Silver Medalist –Tamako Miyazaki, Japan; Irina Sapozhnikova, Russia;

Men’s Senior Bronze Medalist –Aaron Smyth, Australia; Ivan Duarte, Brazil

Women’s Senior Bronze Medalist –Ga-Yeon Jung, Republic of Korea

Junior Division:

Men’s Junior Gold Medalist –Taiyu He, Peoples Republic of China

Women’s Junior Gold Medalist –Gisele Bethea, USA

Men’s Junior Silver Medalist –Jinsol Eum, Republic of Korea

Women’s Junior Silver Medalist –Mackenzie Richter, USA

Men’s Junior Bronze Medalist –Gustavo Carvalho, Brazil

Women’s Junior Bronze Medalist –Yasmin Lomondo, Brazil; Paulina Guraieb Abella, Mexico

Special awards were bestowed to:

Best Junior Couple –Yasmin Lomondo and Gustavo Carvalho, Brazil

Best Senior Couple –Ga-Yeon Jung and Ji Seok Ha, Republic of Korea

Choreography Award –Nicholas Blanc for Aaron Smyth “Rendez-Vous”

Jury Award of Encouragement Male-Yue Shi, Peoples Republic of China

Jury Award of Encouragement Female-Romina Contreras, Chile

Robert Joffrey Award of Merit –Daniel Alejandro McCormick-Quintero, Mexico

Contract and scholarship offers were extended as follows:

The Joffrey Ballet, under the artistic direction of Ashley Wheater, offered:

  • Dae Han Na and Jeong Hansol, Republic of Korea, positions with the company for the 2015-2016 season
  • Taiyu He and Yue Shi, Peoples Republic of China; Matthew Griffin, USA; and Gustavo Carvalho, Brazil; full scholarships to the 2015 Summer Program with continuation into the Studio Company
  • Blake Kessler, USA, a full scholarship to the 2015 Summer Program with continuation into the Trainee Program.

In addition to the Joffrey Ballet award, Griffin was offered a Trainee position with Ballet Memphis for the 2014-2015 season, a one-season contract with Columbia City Ballet and a full tuition scholarship to the 2015 Colorado Ballet Summer Intensive.

Ballet West  offered Anisa Sinteral-Scott, USA, a position with Ballet West II for the 2014-2015 season.

Houston Ballet offered Mackenzie Richter, USA, a position with its Second Company,  Houston Ballet II,  for the 2014-2015 season.

Katherine Barkman, USA, was offered a scholarship for the 2014-2015 school year by The School of the Hamburg Ballet,  a one-season contract with Columbia City Ballet and the opportunity to compete in the 2015 Tanzolymp Competition in Berlin.

Texas Ballet Theater offered Paula Alves, Brazil, a Trainee contract for the 2014-2015 season.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre offered Gisele Bethea a full scholarship and stipend for Fall 2014 and a Studio Company position in Spring 2015.

The South Mississippi Ballet Theatre offered Olga Marchenkova and Ilya Artamonov the opportunity to perform leading roles in its 2014-2015 season’s production of The Sleeping Beauty.

“Our international jury did a great job selecting winners for 2014,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director.  “With every USA IBC, we see an intense level of skill and artistry among dancers and this competition was no exception.”

Preparing for and competing in the USA IBC is highly valuable to young people seeking to make their mark in the dance world, Villella told the finalists at the beginning of the news conference in which winners were announced. “If you do not walk away with a medal you still walk away with the experience.”