2014 USA IBC Ticket Packages On Sale; Single Performance Tickets Available April 7.

Jackson, Miss. (January 20, 2014) -Ticket packages for the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC), scheduled for June 14 – 29, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, are now on sale to the public. The USA IBC is designated as the official international ballet competition in the United States by a Joint Resolution of Congress.

Packages include tickets for three rounds of competition, the June 14 Opening Ceremony and the June 28 Awards Gala – 16 performances. Complexions Contemporary Ballet will appear as the guest company for the Opening Ceremony, and the 2014 medalists will perform at the Awards Gala. Package prices are $265 for lower balcony and rear orchestra seating, $341 for loge and orchestra seating, and $405 for dress circle seating. Ticket packages are discounted 15 percent off the price of individual tickets that will be available for purchase April 7, 2014.

“USA IBC tickets are always in high demand,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director. “Purchasing a ticket package is a great value and an excellent way to secure the best seats for the most popular nights of the event – Opening Night, Round Three and the Awards Gala.”

The USA IBC offers spectacular dance performances from the classical ballet repertoire and the new 2014 contemporary repertoire from which semi-finalists will be required to perform one contemporary solo or pas de deux. Choreographers, Trey McIntyre and Matthew Neenan, have generously contributed several of their works to the upcoming competition.

“Taking the requisite contemporary repertoire into consideration, it will be very exciting to hear about how many audience members develop a preference for their favorite dancers and cheer them on as they advance to the next round,” said Lobrano. “Receiving this kind of support from fans who attend every performance is just one of the many factors that make the USA IBC experience one of a kind.”

Ticket packages may be purchased online or by contacting the USA IBC Box Office, 601-973-9249, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (CST) Monday-Friday. The Box Office is inside the Mississippi Arts Center, 201 E. Pascagoula St., in downtown Jackson. Tickets for individual performances will be released for sale April 7, 2014.

The USA IBC is a two-week, “olympic-style” competition where tomorrow’s stars vie for medals, cash awards, company contracts and scholarships. The event is designated as the official international ballet competition in the United States by a 1982 Joint Resolution of the 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 in the tradition of sister competitions in Varna, Bulgaria, and Moscow, Russia.



CityDance performs at 6 p.m.Friday, May 17, at Belhaven’s Bitsy Irby Visual Arts Center

CityDance Instructor Mia Whitehead (second row, far right) and Level II students who tried on costumes for Stars and Stripes Forever! in a recent rehearsal.

CityDance Instructor Mia Whitehead (second row, far right) and Level II students modeling costumes for Stars and Stripes Forever! in a recent rehearsal.

CityDance, an afterschool dance program the USA International Ballet Competition provides for Jackson Public School students, will present its end-of-the year recital at 6 p.m. Friday, May 17, at Bitsy Irby Visual Arts Center at Belhaven University. Admission is free.

“CityDance is one way the USA IBC brings ballet to students who otherwise may not have an opportunity to experience it, expanding the appreciation and audience for classical dance,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director. “The annual spring recital is always an evening of tremendous pride for these students and their parents and grandparents.”

CityDance participants are selected through auditions of students between 7 and 10 years of age at the beginning of the school year. USA IBC provides the students dancewear, shoes and twice-a-week classes at the downtown Jackson Mississippi Arts Center. Mia Whitehead, a member of Belhaven’s dance department, is the instructor. There is no charge to participate in the program, but parents must agree to transport their children to the Arts Center, arrive on time and notify the instructor if the child cannot be present. The  Mississippi Arts Commission, Greater Jackson Arts Council, Jazzy Dancer, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Molpus, The Charles Sumner Bird Charitable Foundation and other donors contribute support to the program.

For more information about CityDance, call (601) 355-9853. Audition dates for next year’s CityDance program will be announced through the Jackson Public Schools as the 2013-2014 school year begins.


Edward Villella To Chair 2014 USA IBC International Jury

Edward Villella returns to Jackson in June 2014 as chairman of the International Jury for the USA International Ballet Competition

Edward Villella returns to Jackson in June 2014 as chairman of the International Jury for the USA International Ballet Competition

Edward Villella, recognized as America’s most celebrated male dancer and the founding artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, will chair the International Jury for the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition. He accepted the position with the energy and passion that have characterized his career since he joined the New York City Ballet at age 21.

“I am honored to chair the International Jury, and I plan to be quite active. I look forward to teaching every day, to seeing competitors in class as well as on stage. I will encourage my colleagues on the jury and company directors who are attending USA IBC also to observe classes.”

He succeeds Bruce Marks, International Jury chair for six competitions, 1990 through 2010. Marks merits high praise for his years of leadership in “embracing and furthering the vision of the USA IBC to be recognized as the gold standard among ballet competitions worldwide,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director since 1986.

“Bruce preached and practiced the concept that with each USA IBC competition, the process is the prize­: The experience of being selected and preparing to dance on the stage in Jackson is highly valuable to young people seeking to make their mark in the dance world.”

Haley Fisackerly, chairman of the USA IBC Board of Directors, noted the board’s appreciation of the “many contributions” Marks made to USA IBC, adding, “We wish him continued success.”

No stranger to USA IBC, Villella was honorary chairman for the 2002 competition and attended subsequent competitions to hire dancers for the Miami City Ballet, which he led to critical acclaim in his 26 years there. He was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton and named a Kennedy Center honoree in 1997.

An icon of ballet and author of Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic, Villella popularized the role of the male in American dance. Born in Bayside, New York, he trained at the School of American Ballet and continues today as a member of its board of directors. He danced for at least four American presidents and throughout his years as a ballet master has passed along to students the knowledge he received from George Balanchine, described in Prodigal Son as his “artistic father.”  Prior to Villella’s departure in 2012, Miami City Ballet was featured in a PBS special, Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp.

The 10th USA IBC is scheduled for June 14-29, 2014, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. One hundred dancers from 31 countries participated in the 2010 event, and a similar number are expected to be chosen for next year’s competition.

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.