Mona Nicholas, executive director of the USA International Ballet Competition said out of 300 applicants to this year's competition, 120 were selected to compete.
Rotagram May 7, 2018

Brooks Buchanan, Rotary president and assistant general council, C Spire, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone.  The invocation was given, the pledge of allegiance and four-way test were recited and guest and visiting Rotarians were welcomed.

All are invited to attend the Rotary District conference June 7 – 10. For more information and to register go to

Buchanan said that the Rotary Social which was held at his home was a great success in terms of weather and turnout.  He thanked everyone for attending and said we need to do this more often.  He received a round of applause from the audience.

Mark Fields introduced Karla Steckler Tye, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi, for membership.  Buchanan inducted her into the RCJ membership.  She was warmly welcomed by all in attendance.

Janet Scott introduced our speaker Mona Nicholas, executive director of the USA International Ballet Competition of Mississippi which will be held June 10 – 23, 35 days away, in Jackson.  This event brings much positive notice to Jackson drawing news media, judges, attendees and dancers from all over the world.  It inspires emotions and awakens sensibilities and has quite an impact on Mississippi’s economy. The dancers are graceful, powerful athletes. There are 40,000 tickets buyers most of which have attended every competition since its beginning.  This year will be our eleventh competition.

It was begun by Thalia Mara in 1979. She moved to Jackson in 1975 at the invitation of the Jackson Ballet Guild to teach and direct Mississippi’s first professional ballet company. She held a dance performance on a Friday night which had a very low attendance.  After being advised that a football game garnered major attendance that night, she said if competition was what Mississippian’s wanted, she could provide competition, and began her quest to bring the International Ballet Competition to Jackson, winning the competition for Jackson. The first one was in 1979.  This competition is the most favored by the dancers because of its fairness, integrity and Southern hospitality. The U. S. Congress has recognized this as America’s official IBC.

They started with 300 applications and chose 120 to invite to compete.  They are from 40 states and 25 nations.  In 2014 an economic impact study revealed that this two-week event brought $12M to Mississippi’s economy.  For many dancers, this is a stepping stone in their professional career in ballet, and many feel it is the most important IBC competition in the world.  There is an IBC dance school at the same time. They are always adding new components to keep it fresh, relevant and to exemplify the highest standards. She noted that Rotarian Kathy Hackshaw, general manager of the Outlet Mall of Mississippi will provide six $1,500 scholarship awards for Mississippi ballet students enrolled in the 2018 USA IBC Dance School.

She also noted that Kit Fields, wife of Rotarian Mark Fields, is the official artist of this year’s IBC, having created the official poster, copies of which she has sent all over the world, most recently having sent one to someone who requested it in Sweden.  The opening ceremony will honor Robert Joffrey and will feature Joffrey Ballet dancers. He had worked with Thalia Mara to launch the competition in 1979 and served as chairman of the first three juries.