USA International Ballet Competition returns to Jackson in 2023. Kickoff events are Oct. 27 - Clarion Ledger
USA International Ballet Competition returns to Jackson in 2023. Kickoff events are Oct. 27.
Dancers from the USA International Ballet Competition pose in front of the iconic “Welcome to Jackson” mural at State Street and Pearl Street downtown.

Friends of the USA International Ballet Competition have scheduled two events for Thursday, Oct. 27, in preparation for the IBC to be held June 10-24, 2023, at Thalia Mara Hall.At 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, the group unveil a 12-foot red sculpture of a female dancer that will serve as a centerpiece to the auditorium’s main entrance. The sculpture has been specially created by New York-based artist Jack Howard Potter.

“The sculptor will be present to install and unveil it,” said Mona Alston Nicholas, executive director of the USA IBC Competition. She said the idea for a sculpture originated during the 2018 IBC competition in Jackson when the organization borrowed a 10-foot sculpture of a dancer from Delta State University.

“It became a viral sensation,” Nicholas said, as dancers and fans from around the world posted images of themselves posing in front of it. “We called the original sculpture ‘Dancer 10’ and the new one will be named ‘Dancer 12.’”

Also being unveiled will be the official 2023 IBC commemorative poster featuring artwork by the late artist Andrew Bucci. Celebrated as one of Mississippi’s greatest artists, Bucci’s work was also chosen for the IBC’s 2014 poster. The posters will be available for purchase through USA IBC and Brown’s Fine Art & Framing in Jackson.

 Beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, the Friends group will hold an official kickoff party and fundraiser called “Moonlight Attitude” at the Old Capitol Inn, 226 N. State Street in Jackson.

The event will open with ballroom dance lessons from 6 until 7 p.m. followed by food, dancing and music by the Capitol City Stage Band from 7 until 10 p.m. The group will perform a repertoire of big band-era dance classics from artists such as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others.

Serving as honored guest at the party will be John Meehan, president of the International Jury for the 2023 competition. Meehan also serves as chair of the Dance Department at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

“It will be a fun event. We are hoping to have between 100 and 150 people attend,” Nicholas said.

Official dates for the 2023 competition have been set for June 10-23. Jackson is one of only four cities worldwide to host the International Ballet Competitions, the others being Helsinki, Finland; Moscow, Russia; and Varna, Bulgaria.

USA IBC media volunteer Peggy Hampton describes the competition as “comparable to the Olympics.” Each competition typically has more than 400 applicants, she said. Of those, about 100 dancers are selected to compete, typically representing 20 to 25 countries worldwide. 

“It is a global event,” Nicholas said. Jackson’s most recent USA IBC competition in 2018 sold more than 40,000 tickets and generated over $12.5 million to the local economy, she said.

The event was first brought to Jackson in 1979 by Thalia Mara, a celebrated ballet dancer, educator and author who also established the National Academy of Ballet and Theatre Arts in New York. In recognition of her contributions, the Jackson Municipal Auditorium was renamed in her honor in 1994.

Tickets for “Moonlight Attitude” on Oct. 27 are $100. Special $50 tickets are available to young professionals between the ages of 21 to 35. Sponsorships are also available. For ticket information visit or call 601-355-9853.

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