The Olympics of dance return to Jackson during the 12th USA IBC competition

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you’ve attended any event at Thalia Mara Hall, you may not have known that the auditorium is named for the Jackson resident who created the International Ballet Competition. Every four years, the Capital City hosts the third-oldest ballet competition in the world.

“It is the best of the best,” said USA IBC Executive Director Mona Nicholas. “This is like the Olympics of ballet.”

Nearly 20 years ago, Thalia Mara, the founder of the USA International Ballet Competition, died in Jackson, where she created the event which invites dancers from around the world to show off their talents. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded during the two weeks of competition.

“The most coveted thing that they win are job contracts,” said Nicholas. “There are artistic directors in the audience from all over the world seeking their next ballerina or ballet dancer to be in their company.”

This summer, dancers from 17 nations have been invited to compete.

“Many people have launched their careers right here on the stage of Thalia Mara,” said Nicholas, a Vicksburg native and former dancer.

Mara, a world-renowned ballerina, started the competition in the Capital City in 1979. In 1994 the Jackson City Council named the city auditorium after her. $75,000 were recently allocated for minor repairs in anticipation of the event.

“It’s a global event,” added Nicholas. “They come here from many states. In 2018, it was from over 35 states and 25 nations.”

According to IBC officials, the last competition’s economic impact was $12.5 million dollars with over $500,000 in tax revenue. The 12th USA IBC runs June 10-24.

For a complete list of competitors, visit // Tickets go on sale April 3, For more information, visit

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.