Every four years the International Ballet Competition (IBC), called by the New York Times “the most important competition in North America,” comes to Jackson, Miss., which has been designated by Congress as “the official home of the USA IBC.” As in the Olympics, competitors from around the globe vie for gold, silver, and bronze medals; in addition to the competitive element, IBC also hosts a Dance School & Teacher Workshop.
Belhaven University plays a key role in the IBC as the competition’s “International Village.” From June 8-28, 2010, Belhaven served the competition in multiple capacities, providing housing and food as well as facilities for rehearsal and performance.
Victor Ursabia, an IBC dance coach from the Philippines, said in response to his stay, “I have been in and out of the U.S., but Belhaven showed me the warmest hospitality.” Brent Lefavor, the Production Manager for the 2010 IBC, was also enthusiastic in his praise of Belhaven, directing special thanks to Becky Cochran, Belhaven’s Campus Operations Coordinator, for her efforts in overseeing the accommodations.
Belhaven was also able to provide facilities to train and prepare for the competition. The Center for the Arts Concert Hall offered the stage for the Edward Stierle Contemporary Showcase, while Bisty Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center was a uniquely impressive place for warm up classes and rehearsals for competitors practicing for the demanding performances.
Cynthia Newland, the Chair of the Belhaven Dance Department and IBC Board Member, said of IBC dancers and coaches, “When they experienced our state-of -the-arts facilities, they were just in awe. So many have come from countries and places that provide less than adequate studios for training. Our clean, spacious studios were a gift to these hard working dancers.”
The Belhaven Dance Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance and represents one of 30 institutions in the nation accredited in all four areas of the arts – visual art, music, theater, and dance – Belhaven competes at the highest level in the arts with some of the top schools in the nation.