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Vicksburg represented in international ballet competition

Published 10:55 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vicksburg will have two locals making an appearance in this year’s quadrennial USA International Ballet Competition Saturday in Jackson.

The pair, Mona Nicholas and Andrew Bucci, will not be dancing, but they will be contributing with Nicholas serving as the deputy director of the 2014 USA IBC board and Bucci’s painting, “Figure in Green” having been chosen as the signature image for the commemorative poster and program.

Mona Nicholas
Mona Nicholas

Both Nicholas and Bucci are graduates of St. Aloysius High School — Nicholas in 1981 and Bucci in 1938.

Nicholas said she would transition into the deputy director’s position when Sue Lobrano retires.

Lobrano has served as the executive director for the USA IBC for 34 years and will step down following the competitions.

Prior to being chosen for the position, Nicholas said she had been a volunteer with the USA IBC Ancillaries committee, which is responsible for the set up, clean up, decorative display and staffing of each event.

She has also served as the president of Friends of the USA IBC, a volunteer organization that she revived in 2012.

The group’s role is to help support the USA IBC financially and generate interest in the community for ballet through annual events such as membership drives and a fall fundraiser.

Nichols said she is planning to expand Friends of the USA IBC to other cities and states and is hoping that will include Vicksburg.

“We would help someone start a chapter to raise money and awareness for the IBC,” she said.

“In 2010 ticket holders represented 43 states and 10 countries,” Nicholas said, and $10.2 million was raised impacting the state and local economy.

Nicholas said she has had a lifelong love of dance, and, during her youth, was a student at the Debra Franco Preparatory School of Dance here in Vicksburg.

“I wanted to dance everyday and Debra let me,” Nicholas laughed.

As a graduate of Millsaps College with a degree in business administration, Nicholas said even though she didn’t major in dancing, she continued taking dance classes and has also maintained her friendship with Franco.

“She [Franco] called me up one day when I was in college and asked me if I wanted to have lunch with some important ballet people, so I went and wound up meeting Thalia Mara,” said Nicholas.

Thalia Mara, a ballet instructor, helped found the USA IBC in Jackson and in 1994 became the namesake of Jackson’s Municipal Auditorium, now known as Thalia Mara Hall.

Before accepting the position with the USA IBC, Nicholas worked at Siemens Healthcare for 25 years as an account manager.

Bucci currently resides in Maryland, where he worked for the National Meteorological Center until 1979.

“I graduated from LSU,” said Bucci, “After the war I went to school at the Art Institute in Chicago,” he said.

There he received a B.F.A. in 1951 and an M.F.A. in 1954.

Bucci said Lobrano approached him about submitting art pieces for the 2014 commemorative poster.

“I gave them about 20 pieces,” said Bucci.

From those, an impressionistic-style oil on paper that he painted in 1991 was chosen.

Bucci’s works are included in the following collections, the Arkansas Arts Center, Brooks Memorial Gallery, Mississippi Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, in New Orleans and the Florence Art Gallery in South Carolina. His work can also be viewed and or purchased at the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, Art Under a Hot Tin Roof in Jackson, Tenn. and at Brown’s Fine Art in Jackson, where signed copies of the 2014 USA IBC commemorative posters are also available.

The first IBC premiered in Varna in 1964 and rotated among the three cities of Varna, Moscow and Tokyo. In 1979 the first USA IBC was held in Jackson, making it the first IBC to be held in the western hemisphere, said Nicholas.

This year 91 dancers representing 20 countries will perform in events that will run through June 29.

For a complete listing of the performances, competitions and tickets, visit