/USA IBC An inside track to one of the world’s most prestigious ballet contests

USA IBC An inside track to one of the world’s most prestigious ballet contests

USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) is a magnet for dancers who are competing for cash awards, medals, scholarships and job opportunities. It will transform Jackson’s downtown arts area into an International Village for a festival of contemporary and classical ballet over two weeks. The IBC is held every four years in Jackson. In 2014, the state saw an economic impact of $12.1million. On Wednesday, June 10th, the IBC 2018 will see 102 competitors representing 19 countries and seven non-competing partners. Audiences have the option to indulge in deep diving or try it out on a toe dip. Carol Puckett (IBC chairman) says, “Approach it as Mississippians approach sport.” “We have a great appreciation for athleticism and this is one of the most athletic arts. Thalia Mara knew that this was her intention when she created the IBC. Round I matinee tickets are available for $6-$8 (with fees $11-$13 for a balcony seat or rear orchestra seat) and as low as $6-$8 ($8 with fees $11-$13). The Awards Gala dress circle is $77 (plus fees). Tickets can be purchased at usaibc.tix.com, 601-973-9249. The competition is for solo and couple dancers. One may compete, or both may compete. There are three rounds of competition: classical ballet in Round 1, contemporary ballet Round 2, and classical and contemporary ballet together in Round 3. Each round reduces the field by approximately a third. The eliminated competitors can stay to continue taking classes, attending performances, and may even be spotted by company directors or scouts. The categories for junior and senior competitors are 14-18 years old, respectively. IBC-goers who have been around for many years will be aware of several new changes. Newbies will also notice some improvements. The competition will be tightened from 16 to 14 days and open on Sunday nights. Mona Nicholas, executive director of IBC, stated that it is becoming more difficult to get professional dancers and dignitaries to stay for 16 days or two weeks. The Round II competition is now compressed into one matinee, two evening sessions and one weekend. The ballet buzz is concentrated downtown this year due to the reduced schedule. However, more activity at the Arts Center of Mississippi (and the Jackson Convention Complex) keeps it centrally located and creates a festive arts corridor. Nicholas states, “We want people just to walk up and feel like they are in the center of something great.” A Party on the Plaza, from 5-7 p.m., will be held in the Arts Center plaza. There will be food trucks, musicians, and vendors to liven up the pre-show atmosphere. Ballet lectures and films at the IBC, along with the documentary about Misty Copeland’s life, “A Ballerina’s Tale”, are all available at the Jackson Convention Complex. Competitor classes are also available. The complete schedule of events can be found at usaibc.com. Only a few observation tickets will be available for the daily competition classes (June 11-18) for an exclusive behind-the scenes look at the dancers’ routine. The Opening Ceremony, June 10, features a parade of flags and torch lighting, as well as performances by Joffrey Ballet dancers. On June 22, the Awards Gala, with the medalist performances by juror-selected favorites, with accompaniment by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, is the most popular event. The Awards Gala also features non-finalists performing a new choreography that Matthew Neenah, renowned choreographer, creates for these dancers in workshop during the IBC. The Award Winners’ names will be announced on June 22nd, but details will be announced during the Awards Ceremony that night. Nicholas states that they will know that they are getting a medal. They don’t know whether it’s a gold, silver, or bronze until the night. The Encore Gala will host the medalists again on June 23. The audience wears more formal attire at performances. This is usually the case for matinees and early sessions. It becomes more dressy as the IBC progresses. Do not be late or wait until the intermission to get seated. You must not use your cell phone inside the theater. No texting, talking, recording, photography, or video. A lighted screen can distract or even endanger competitors who have trained for years to perform in this moment. It could also interfere with the sound equipment. Ushers will be watching. Pen lights are fine, but limit their use to performances. Do you want to take a selfie with your favorite actor? After the performance, wait outside for them. There are accessible entrances on both sides of Thalia Hall. A ramp is located on the West Street side. Email or call the box office if you don’t want to use a ticket. The IBC can help you find a suitable taker such as a coach. Nicholas states that it is better to have someone in your seat, because dancers love a full house. You can purchase parking passes from the IBC, which offer discounted rates for the Republic Parking garage (Pascagoula West), right across from Thalia Mara Hall. The Jackson Convention Complex offers free parking, just a block away from the theater. The best way to find a dancer you want to root for is by following these steps. Volunteer to become an IBC ambassador (formerly known by host families), or in any other volunteer role. You can volunteer for one day, one night or more and choose your shift. This puts you in the center of the event. The families of ambassadors ensure that competitors are supported and welcomed at Millsaps College. This includes a welcome basket, night out, or help with errands. Families and friends can share a dancer. Some like to have more than one. Nicholas states that you are welcome to have as many dancers or not. As a fundraiser, friends of the IBC will sell flowers downstairs at the theatre. Fans can also pre-order them or purchase them on the spot for their favorite competitor. Many downtown locations are available to accommodate theatergoers. Estelle Wine Bar and Bistro is located at the Westin Jackson, an official hotel of IBC. It is right across West Street, from Thalia Mara Hall. Underground 119 is now open from Thursday to Saturday. It will be open until 11 p.m. on Thursday and Thursday, and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They also have open hours for Thursday and Friday, and 2 a.m. on Saturday. There are special drink deals for ballet-themed nights. Parlor Market is open Monday through Saturday. It offers a $40 prix-fixe menu, extended kitchen hours, and a special ballet-themed drink.