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. ###


MAC awards $26,010 operating grant to USA IBC

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 $1.3 million in grants the Commission will award in 2018-2019 and will help the USA IBC fund operations and programming. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Arts organizations throughout the state of Mississippi play a pivotal role in sharing the power of the arts with people from all walks of life,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The arts are for everyone, and the Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support arts organizations committed to growing the presence of the arts in their communities.”

The USA IBC is the official international ballet competition for the United States, as designated by a Joint Resolution of Congress. Held in Jackson every four years, the competition attracts dancers and visitors from around the world and generates a multi-million-dollar economic impact for the state and capital city. In between competitions, the USA IBC presents a Reunion Gala performance by past medalists. It also sponsors CityDance, an ongoing ballet instructional program for students in the Jackson Public Schools.

The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves residents 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 arts education.

For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Anna Ehrgott, Communications Director, 601-359-6546 or aehrgott@arts.ms.gov.



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


Scholarship awards go to 19 USA IBC Dance School students

Fifteen ballet schools have awarded scholarships to 19 students of the 2018 USA International Ballet Competition Dance School. The awards were presented at the conclusion of the two-week school that was held in conjunction with the 11th USA IBC, June 10-23, in Jackson, Mississippi.

The 19 scholarship recipients were chosen from 104 dance students from four nations who completed the 2018 USA IBC Dance School. Students trained with leading teachers in ballet and contemporary dance daily and attended competition performances nightly. All classes met in the Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center at Belhaven University, where students lived.

With amounts ranging from half tuition to full tuition for 2019 summer study programs, the scholarships were offered to the following students (alternates are in parentheses):

Kansas City Ballet – Amanda Kuebler, Colorado (Sarah Bedford, Mississippi);

Maryland Youth Ballet – Sage Jernigan, Alabama (Elle Herrington, Mississippi);

Next Generation Ballet – Wilton McDowell, Mississippi; Polly Ryals, Florida; Devonna Curtis, Mississippi;

Oklahoma City Ballet – Bella Chelette, Louisiana (Camila Araujo, Lima, Peru);

Pacific Northwest Ballet – Isabelle Rhodes, Arkansas (Shelby Rambo, Louisiana);

Texas Ballet Theatre – Victoria Mungan, Mississippi (Blaire Shelton, Mississippi);

Anaheim Ballet – Naomi Felix Aldebol, Florida (Annabelle Mack, Louisiana);

Ballet Chicago – Alana Barasorda, California (Kathryn Lawrie, Mississippi);

Ballet West – Graham Barnes, Tennessee (Kristina Lorelli, Mississippi);

Carolina Ballet – Aubree Lavergne, Louisiana (Polly Ryals, Florida);

Cincinnati Ballet – Sammy Wheat, Mississippi (Cade Butler, Mississippi); Ellie Crawford, Alabama (Lotus Drada, Louisiana);

Grand Rapids Ballet – Maxyne LeBlanc, New Brunswick, Canada (Anna Leah Jolly, Mississippi);

Houston Ballet Academy – Gwyneth Smith, Tennessee (Kyla Downey, Arizona);

Joffrey Ballet School – Connor Batson, Mississippi (Kallie Green, Maryland); Elena Remez, Washington D.C. (Elizabeth Nelson, Missouri);

Joffrey Ballet Year Long School – Carlos de Quesada, Florida (no alternate).


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.

March 2 is deadline to apply to 2018 USA IBC Dance School

The USA IBC Dance School welcomes an eminent international faculty to Jackson June 10-23, 2018, for a two-week dance intensive running concurrently with the 11th USA International Ballet Competition.

Targeted to pre-professional ballet students between ages 12 and 20, the school will enroll from 150 to 175 students who have a minimum of four years of ballet (including one year of pointe for girls). All classes will be held in the state-of-the-art dance studios of Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center at Belhaven University.

Directing the 2018 school is David Keary, artistic director of Ballet Mississippi. Keary, who danced with New York City Ballet, has assembled a faculty with training in Russian, American, Bournonville and other ballet styles, as well as modern and jazz. The faculty members’ collective experience encompasses American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey, New York City Ballet, Kirov Ballet, St. Petersburg State Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

Faculty members include: Charles Askegard, Petrusjka Broholm, Carlos dos Santos, Zhanna Dubrovskaya, Fabrice Herrault, Maria Konrad, Svetlana Osiyeva, Rhodie Jorgenson and Marcus Alford.

The USA IBC Dance School offers students the unique opportunity to see world-class dance performances during the three rounds of the competition. “Seeing competitors perform nightly is the crown jewel of attending,” Keary notes. “It’s enthralling. It’s uplifting, and it gives students an idea of the level of commitment it takes to dance professionally.”

Click here for more information and to apply. Deadline for application is March 2.

2018 USA IBC Opening Ceremony to Honor Robert Joffrey, Feature Joffrey Ballet Dancers

The Opening Ceremony for the 2018 USA IBC will honor the late Robert Joffrey and feature a performance by dancers of the Joffrey Ballet. The USA IBC, the official international ballet competition in the United States by Joint Resolution of Congress, will be held June 10-23 at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson.

Joffrey, co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet, worked with the USA IBC founder, Thalia Mara, to launch the Jackson competition in 1979. He chaired the first three juries.

John Meehan, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, will chair the 2018 jury. “For dancers, the USA IBC is the most intense learning experience,” said Meehan, who served on 2010 and 2014 juries. “They learn about their confidence, their courage and themselves as performers.” Other jurors will be Yuri Fateev, Russia; Hae Shik Kim, Korea; Andre Lewis, Canada; Xiomara Reyes, Cuba; Trinidad Vives, Spain; Stanton Welch, Australia; Ashley Wheater, United Kingdom; and Feng Ying, China. Other jurors will be announced in coming weeks.

The 2018 USA IBC will welcome applicants ages 14 to 28, in keeping with other international ballet competitions. Approximately 100 dancers will be invited to compete from more than 300 applicants. Cash prizes for medalists will total $100,000.

Observing the bicentennial of Marius Petipa’s birth, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky of American Ballet Theatre will lecture on Petipa variations as part of a new USA IBC Arts, Lecture and Film Series.

Artist Kit Fields and 2018 USA IBC poster

Unveiled at the kickoff news conference for the 11th USA IBC, the 2018 commemorative poster features a painting by Jackson artist Kit Fields. “The beauty of the dancers, their energy and the excitement that is in the air at the USA IBC—these are the things I tried to capture,” she said. The poster, artist and art exhibit during the competition are sponsored by BankPlus

2018 USA IBC Dance School

David Keary, Ballet Mississippi artistic director and former New York City Ballet dancer, will direct the USA IBC Dance School, held concurrently with the competition. Faculty members will include Charles Askegard, Petrusjka Broholm, Carlos dos Santos, Jr., Zhanna Dubrovskya, Fabrice Herrault, Maria Konrad, Svetlana Osiyeva, Marcus Alford and Rhodie Jorgenson. All classes will be held in the state-of-the-art dance studios of Belhaven University.


CityDance ballet auditions are Saturday, Sept. 9

Auditions for the 2017-2018 CityDance ballet program will be held Saturday, Sept. 9, 2018, at the Mississippi Arts Center, 201 E. Pascagoula St. Sponsored by the USA International Ballet Competition, CityDance provides free ballet classes for approximately 75 students enrolled in Jackson Public Schools or charter schools within the city.

Auditions are open to students who are ages 7 to 10. Children who are 11 or 12 years of age may audition ONLY if they completed CityDance last year (2016-2017 school year).

Selection is based on flexibility, rhythm and ability to follow instructions. No dance experience is required for first-time students. Classes are held after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the school year at the Mississippi Arts Center. Leotards, tights and shoes are provided at no charge one time at the beginning of the program. Class space is limited.

Audition times are listed below. Wait times will depend on the number of children to be auditioned in each group. Please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before the time for your child’s age group to audition.

  • 8:15 a.m. – Ages 7 & 8
  • 10:00 a.m. – Ages 9 & 10
  • 11:30 a.m. – Ages 11 & 12 – ONLY students who completed 2016-2017 CityDance

Students should wear comfortable shorts, t-shirts and socks. No costumes are permitted.

CityDance is funded in part through the generous support of the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency; the City of Jackson; Greater Jackson Arts Council; Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

MS Arts Commission logo


City of Jackson, MS

Friends of the USA IBC Kentucky Derby fundraiser -Buy your ticket here!

Jockeys & Juleps is the theme for this year’s annual Friends of the USA International Ballet Competition fundraiser, a Kentucky Derby party, Saturday, May 6. Festivities will take place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the home of Rachel and John Ravenstein, 2377 Twin Lakes Circle in Jackson.

Be a Host Sponsor

Buy a Derby Party Ticket

Buy a Raffle Ticket

In addition to watching the televised race, guests will enjoy opportunities to participate in a Derby Day Raffle, Derby Day Winner’s Circle, and hat and tie contest. Raffle tickets, $20 each, give the purchaser a chance to win a ticket package for the 2018 USA IBC, June 10 – 23. The ticket package has a value of $497 and includes one ticket to every performance excluding the Encore Gala. With the purchase of a $25 Winner’s Circle ticket, available only at the party, you are a guaranteed winner of one of the fabulous prizes.The afternoon promises to be an exciting and eventful soiree!

Tickets are $75 per person, which includes scrumptious Derby Day fare, traditional Mint Juleps and other refreshing libations.