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Loyola Ballet celebrates 50 years of excellence and hosts prestigious competition

Loyola press release - February 6, 2015

For the first time, the Valentina Kozlova International Semifinal Ballet Competition (VKIBC) is coming to the U.S. and will be held at Loyola University New Orleans in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall from Friday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1. Christened as the New Orleans “Fleur De Lys” Semi-Final, tickets for this event, which is part of Loyola’s Montage Fine and Performing Arts series, can be purchased in advance here. Prices are $15 general admission, $10 for Loyola students and senior citizens.

The VKIBC is one of only four ballet competitions sanctioned in the U.S. by the International Dance Council, which is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It was founded to allow student and professional dancers an opportunity to perform and compete in a positive and encouraging atmosphere before a distinguished panel of international judges.

Competition jurors will convene at Loyola from all over the world including the U.K., France, Panama, Cuba, Russia and the U.S. More than 65 talented dancers from around the country will compete for bronze, silver, and gold medals in four different age categories for dancers ranging from 11 to 26 years old.

In addition to attending the competition, Soviet-born Valentina Kozlova, a pioneer in the international ballet world who was trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow, will also be presenting master classes, which will be open to the public for viewing. Tickets for the viewings are $20 and can also be purchased in advance. The classes take place Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m. in Roussel Hall.

“New Orleans is a very special city in my memories. My first performance after defection took place in New Orleans. It is a very cultural and colorful city, with a rich history in music and dance. I do see New Orleans as the opening gate to embrace the wonderful magic of dance. I do believe, with its roots in French history, New Orleans will learn, cherish and give great opportunities for young, promising talents in the dance world,” Kozlova said.

Kozlova, who came to the U.S. in 1979, was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and opened her own dance school, the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York, in 2003.

“This international ballet competition at Loyola is not only a major cultural event for the city of New Orleans, but it also gives students of this region an opportunity to experience the high-caliber instruction of a former principal dancer of both the famous Bolshoi Ballet and the New York City Ballet,” said Laura Zambrano, director of the Loyola Ballet. “The competition offers young dancers opportunities for their future endeavors while bringing to the community this important art form.”

The competition not only provides a chance for the Loyola Ballet program to be in the spotlight during its 50th anniversary, but it is also an opportunity to reintroduce audiences to the French and Spanish roots of ballet that parallel the City of New Orleans.

“The ballet program at Loyola is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so I am so excited to celebrate this milestone while hosting this distinguished competition,” Zambrano said. “New Orleans has ballet history dating back to the 18th century. Hosting this competition will reconnect our city to those roots.”

The competition has awarded many dancers cash prizes, ballet costumes, and summer scholarships to ballet schools like Valentina Kozlova’s Dance Conservatory of New York, Houston Ballet Academy, National Ballet of Canada, Cranko School of the Stuttgart Ballet, The Paris Conservatory, and second company positions to Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, and many more.

For media inquiries, contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5888.