News
USA IBC senior gold medalist winners Yungting Qiu and Sicong Wu in Zhang Disha's Sad Birds. Photo by Richard FInkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

It's been an exciting two weeks here in Jackson, Mississippi, as 119 dancers from 19 countries have competed for medals, monetary awards, scholarships and company contracts at the USA International Ballet Competition. But the IBC has offered more than prizes—dancers have also been networking and taking master classes, including a fascinating lecture demonstration series with choreographer Alexei Ratmansky that included learning Petipa's original choreography from Stepanov notations.

This week, 32 finalists performed two classical variations and one contemporary piece over the course of three nights. Meanwhile, semi-finalists worked intensely with choreographer Matthew Neenan on an original work, which they performed at last night's Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Awards Gala. Audiences also had one last chance to see select finalists perform, before the jury (led by chairman John Meehan) joined them onstage to present the medals.

So without further ado, here are the USA IBC winners!

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News
Canadian junior finalist Mya Kresnyak in a variation from "Paquita." Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

On June 10, 119 dancers from 19 countries gathered in Jackson, MS to compete in the USA International Ballet Competition. Today, the USA IBC announced the list of 32 finalists, who will compete for medals and cash awards in Round III, held June 19-21. All of the finalists will receive a travel stipend, and medalists and award winners will be announced at the competition's gala on June 22. See the full list below, and stay tuned all week on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we bring you the latest from Jackson, live.

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2014 Junior Gold Medalist Gisele Bethea and partner Michal Wozniak at the 2014 USA IBC Awards Gala. Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

From June 10–23, 119 competitors from 19 countries will gather in Jackson, Mississippi, for the 11th USA International Ballet Competition. Held every four years, the USA IBC has helped launch the careers of dozens of stars, including Daniil Simkin, Misa Kuranaga and Brooklyn Mack. "The 2014 competition was good, but we're making this year better," says jury chairman John Meehan. Changes include broadened age limits for competitors and a larger sum of prize money. This summer's competition also has a special focus on Marius Petipa in honor of his 200th birthday. There will be an emphasis on Petipa repertoire, and choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will give a workshop for competitors on his reconstructions of original Petipa choreography. This edition will also honor the legacy of Robert Joffrey, who was a catalyst in launching the USA IBC with founder Thalia Mara. Dancers from The Joffrey Ballet will perform in the opening ceremony.

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Kyle Froman for Dance Magazine.

As told to Madeline Schrock and Nancy Wozny.

We asked five frequent judges for their advice, their pet peeves and their approach to the scoring process.


Peter Stark

  • Head of the men's program at Boston Ballet School, associate director of Boston Ballet II
  • Valentina Kozlova IBC, Youth America Grand Prix

Igor Burlak, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

I am an advocate for competitions. I know there are people who are against them, but dancers can learn a lot when they're working one-to-one versus in a classroom setting. My mentor Bruce Marks, who was chair of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson for many years, said, “the process is the prize." It's true. As a coach, I've had dancers win and lose, but I certainly feel like the process of setting a goal and working on something is valuable.

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Cynthia Gregory as the Firebird. Photo by Max Waldman via Flick River.

“All-American” and “exotic bird” don’t usually appear in the same context. When Cynthia Gregory appears in an American Ballet Theatre performance of Firebird, however, they do. One of ABT’s brightest stars in the late 20th century, Gregory is incredible in the title role of this 1970s Lincoln Center performance. This adaptation of Michel Fokine’s version also features former ABT principals John Meehan, as Prince Ivan, and Leslie Browne as the Princess.

Don’t have 50 minutes to spare? Skip to the Firebird’s entrance and her pas de deux with Ivan between 6:00 and 13:50. Gregory’s avian affectations are masterful, as is her interpretation of Stravinsky’s score. She punctuates sharp notes with wrist flicks and lightening fast legs, and enraptures with syrupy arms and supple back bends. At once timid and seductive in the arms of Ivan, Gregory has him—and us—hooked. Happy #FlashbackFriday!

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

 

There’s something to be said for onstage chemistry—you certainly can’t believe in a love story without sensing it between the lovers! In this clip from the National Ballet of Canada’s 1987 televised performance of The Merry Widow, the electricity between the wealthy widow Hanna, played by former NBoC principal Karen Kain, and Count Danilo, danced by then American Ballet Theatre principal John Meehan, is palpable. The two characters, former lovers, find themselves thrust together after many years apart as part of an elaborate marriage scheme. And in Kain and Meehan’s playful performance, you sense their shared history—the way he arches his brow and holds his hand out expectantly for her, the way she side-glances knowingly and teasingly resists. With exuberant tosses of the head, they let their guards down, their flirtations betraying past hurts and signaling the reconciliation to come. It’s obvious these two are still in love, all thanks to Kain and Meehan’s authentic connection.

 

Since leaving the stage, both have made huge contributions to the ballet world. Kain, long understood as one of NBoC’s biggest stars, now leads from the front of the studio as the company’s artistic director. Meanwhile, Meehan went on to direct the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and Hong Kong Ballet, and now serves as chair of Vassar College’s Dance Department. Happy #TBT!

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