Dancing Their Way Into Legend: The History Behind USA IBC XII

In 1964, the first International Ballet Competition premiered in Varna before rotating among the three cities of Varna, Moscow, and Tokyo, adding Jackson, Mississippi in 1975.

USA IBC Dancers with Welcome to Jackson mural

The 12th USA International Ballet Competition (USA IBC XII) returns home to Jackson for a two-week event taking place from June 10 to 24, 2023, attracting masterful dancers from across the globe for a chance to showcase their technical and artistic abilities. This "Olympic-style" contest provides an opportunity for participants to compete for a place in a renowned ballet company and learn from the world’s finest. Not just for ballet directors and enthusiasts, the competition and its subsequent performances offer a rare and exciting experience for anyone who wants to witness some of the most well-known ballet talents on one stage at the place that started it all - Thalia Mara Hall.

In 1964, the first International Ballet Competition premiered in Varna before rotating among the three cities of Varna, Moscow, and Tokyo. The dance world converged on Jackson in 1975 when Thalia Mara, a renowned ballet teacher, and educator, was invited by the Jackson Ballet Guild to establish a professional ballet company and school. As part of her development, Thalia introduced the idea of hosting a world-class ballet competition.

Thalia Mara
Credit: Bern and Franke Keating Collection, Southern Media Archive, Archives and Special Collections, University of Mississippi Library, Oxford

In 1978, the nonprofit corporation, Mississippi Ballet International, Inc. (MBI), was created to produce the first International Ballet Competition in the United States, and Robert Joffrey, renowned Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet, agreed to chair the first international panel of jurors. With the help of local, national, and international endorsements and the commitment of the citizens of Jackson, the first International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) was held in June 1979, featuring 70 dancers from 15 countries.

The success of the first competition led to Jackson being designated as the official home of the USA IBC by the United States Congress in 1982. Subsequent competitions have attracted a growing number of competitors globally and have been widely recognized and acclaimed. Today, the USA IBC in Jackson remains one of the oldest and most respected dance competitions in the world and takes place every four years, with the last competition (USA IBC XI) happening from June 10-23, 2018, and generating $12 million in capital for the city and state.

To learn more about USA IBC XII and for ticketing information, visit the official website and social media.

Anne Marie Hanna


Anne Marie Hanna

Related Content: