Some call the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, the Olympics of dance. It comes around every four years, draws an international roster of competitors and bestows medals, contracts, cash awards and scholarships upon the some of best and brightest young talents in the world. The competition, which started June 14, has narrowed down the list of 99 competitors to 31 finalists. Here are the six Americans who made the cut. (All photography by Richard Finkelstein, courtesy IBC Jackson.)
In the Senior division:
Steven Loch, 23, a corps member at the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Melissa Gelfin, 21, joining Cincinnati Ballet as a new dancer in the fall.
In the Junior division:
Aran Bell, 15, currently a student at both the Art of Classical Ballet in Florida and the Fabrice Herrault Studio in NYC. (You may remember him from the 2011 documentary First Position.)
Blake Kessler, 17, currently a trainee with Orlando Ballet II.
Gisele Bethea, 15, currently a student at the Master Ballet Academy in Scottsdale, AZ.
Mackenzie Richter, 15, currently a student at the International City School of Ballet in Smyrna, GA.
Winners will be annouced Friday, June 27th.