China, United States dancers strike gold

By Deborah Bulkeley, The Associated Press
Saturday June 29, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. — China’s Wu Haiyan says performing with the best dancers in the world was as great an honor as the gold medal she received in USA International Ballet Competition. 

Haiyan was awarded the gold medal in the senior women’s division on Friday. The competition closes Sunday with a performance by medal winners. 

The USA IBC is the United States’ official international ballet competition. The two-week competition is held every four years in Jackson. About 100 dancers from 24 countries competed this year. 

Speaking through an interpreter, Haiyan said she hopes the experience she gained during her first international performance will help her “give more beautiful performances to audiences around the world.” 

“This is a new beginning for me,” she said. “In the future I will make a great effort to achieve more.” 

Haiyan, 23, performs with the Central Ballet in Beijing, also known as the National Ballet. She’s been dancing since she was 10 years old. 

American dancer Joseph Phillips, a native of Columbia, S.C., took the gold in the men’s junior division. Phillips, a 16-year-old student at the North Carolina School for the Arts, said he plans to pursue a career in classical ballet. 

“I just think it was a dream and it just came true,” Phillips said. 

No gold medals were awarded in the men’s senior or women’s junior divisions. 

Bruce Marks, chairman of the international jury, said gold medals are not always awarded because dancers are judged on international standards. 

“We are comparing these youngsters to the best dancers around,” he said. 

Medalists in each of four divisions receive cash prizes, Marks said. The jury also awarded special awards and scholarships to some finalists who did not medal.