Today we have an interview with Sue Lobrano, Executive Director of the International Ballet Competition…
1. What is your background in dance?
Growing up in a small Mississippi town in the 1950’s presented a challenge in finding dance classes. Early years put me at the mercy of whomever came to town to teach until I found a wonderful teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. I turned out to be a pretty good hoofer and she sent me to study jazz with Gus Giordano.
After the first IBC in 1979 I thought that I might like to be associated with it. I was looking for a change and so I was employed as the IBC’s “girl Friday!” I later moved to General Manager and in October of 1986 was promoted to Executive Director.
3. Can you tell readers a bit about why this competition is unique?
The USA IBC was the first competition to be held in the Western Hemisphere joining with competitions in Varna, Bulgaria, Moscow, and Tokyo. In 1982 it was designated as the U.S.’s official international ballet competition through a Joint Resolution of Congress.
4. Would you talk a little about how the competition has grown over the years?
We have certainly grown in audience, providing more opportunities for our participants such as company contracts for dancers, jobs in the field from contacts made here, establishing a festival of dance in ancillary events and definitely grown in the number of applications we receive.
5. What is it like behind the scenes?
I have 3 fulltime staff members plus me. I later add staff on two-year to 6-month contracts. We are fortunate to have so many volunteers that work on 18 committees. Behind the scenes is, well, interesting. During the event it can be exhausting, but the thing that keeps me going mostly is feeling the tensions of the day slowly float away when the curtain opens and the dancers begin to create their magic. Then the next day, back to the craziness of the schedule.
6. What can people do to get involved with this event if they would like to help out in the future?
I suggest they log on to our web site at www.usaibc.com, click on the SUPPORT tab and look at the volunteer options we have available. Call or email if there are questions. We do have returning volunteers from many different states who are very much an important part of what we do. So, ya’ll sign up and come join us.
7. The competition isn’t the only thing going on during this time period–what are some of the other events you have had?
A Festival of Dance surrounds the two-week competition which includes dance films, dance related workshops, exhibits and much more. The recent 2010 USA IBC presented PHILADANCO in a two day residency which included a Master Class, a Lecture/Demo and an evening performance; noted dance photographer Lois Greenfield held a one day photography workshop and an exhibit of her work was displayed throughout the month. Lunch with the IBC was popular throughout the event featuring different and diverse speakers, and TuTu.COM held a weeklong workshop for costume makers. All dancers may request a private evaluation session of their performances with one of two dance professionals. We also do a USA IBC Reunion Gala featuring past medal winners every other year between competitions.
8. How is the dance school tied into this?
The IBC Dance School allows students to participate in classes during the day and attend the competition at night. A Teachers Workshop is also available. One thing that really does set the USA IBC apart from the rest is that each dancer who progresses to the finals, Round III, receives a $1,000 stipend. I also think I should mention that the USA International Ballet Competition is a National Endowment for the Arts 2010 American Masterpiece as designated through the Mississippi Arts Commission.
9. What has been the most satisfying aspect of being involved with the USA International Ballet Competition?
Having been associated with the USA International Ballet Competition for 30 years, this is a hard one. Overall it is seeing many incredible young dancers come to Jackson at the beginning of their careers and later seeing them go on to dance with some of the world’s great companies. Two that come to mind instantly are Jose Carreno (ABT) and Nina Ananiashvilli (ABT). There are many, many more.
10. What is next for you?
Next for me is more of the same. Planning has begun for the 2014 USA IBC and it will be here before we know it is time.
Bio: Sue Lobrano joined the USA IBC in 1980, and she has served as executive director of the organization since 1986. Sue directs and oversees all operations of the USA IBC, develops the USA IBC budget and is the official spokesperson of the organization. She also supervises office staff, determines volunteer committee needs and represents the USA IBC Board of Directors at sanctioned competitions and international dance meetings around the world. Sue is a former dancer and dance teacher. She taught at the Jackson Ballet under the direction of Thalia Mara and operated her own dance school for 13 years.