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. ###


CityDance Auditions Held

The Jackson Arts Center was jumping with over 100 Jackson Public School students on Saturday, September 8, 2012!  All of these students were vying for one of 50 coveted positions in the USA IBC CityDance ballet program.

The USA IBC has hosted CityDance since 2003, as a free after-school ballet program for Jackson Public School students ages 7 to 13 years old.  CityDance students attend weekly ballet classes and receive free dancewear during the academic year.

Each year all students, new and returning, have to audition for a position in a CityDance class.  The USA IBC invites new students from ages 7 to 10 to audition and all of last year’s students to audition.  The children are selected to be a part of CityDance based on  flexibility, rhythm, and their ability to follow dance instruction.  We are pleased to announce that Mia Whitehead of Belhaven University will be returning to lead this intensive ballet program as instructor for the 2012/2013 school year.

At the end of each school year, CityDance students present an end-of-year performance for family, friends, and the public.  Sometimes, our CityDance students perform at other special events, such as our Reunion Gala.

CityDance is presented in part by generous support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Greater Jackson Arts Council, Ballet Mississippi, and Jazzy Dancer.  If you would like to support this important program, please click here.

Happy Birthday, Thalia!

Thalia Mara (1911-2003)
We celebrate with gratitude and love for the lady who inspired us. Thalia Mara made us believe that together, we could make it happen. So many words have been used to describe Thalia: strong, visionary, hardheaded and diligent are but a few. Because she was all of these things, she accomplished more than most people dream of doing.

Thalia was born in Chicago to Russian parents and began her dance career at an early age, dancing professional on stages around the world. As an acclaimed dance educator, she created the School of Ballet Repertory in New York city, the first of its kind in the U. S. to offer elementary and secondary academics as well as the performing arts.

Author of eleven published books, Thalia will long be remembered for her role as a teacher. Many students found their love of dance through her, and many went on to careers in ballet companies around the world.

She left her home in New York City in 1975 to live in a Mississippi she barely knew. She arrived with the hope to further the arts in the South, educating not only students, but building audiences. She created the first ballet company in Mississippi that actually paid dancers. Among them are David Keary, Ballet Mississippi executive and artistic director, and Kathy Thibodeaux, founder and artistic director of Ballet Magnificat!.

We owe her much. And today, June 28, we wish her a happy birthday and say “thank you” still.