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