Ballet Beyond Borders Dance Challenge and Global Diplomacy Conference is coming to Missoula Jan. 11-14. Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre’s event attracts dancers from more than 20 countries who are working together to change the world.
Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) includes an international dance challenge, a book signing by international ballet star and Syrian refugee Ahmad Joudeh, a diplomacy conference, and special performances. The BBB Gala, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13, brings international dancers in all disciplines (ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and more) to the stage at the UM Dennison Theater to perform alongside competitors.
“There is no dance event as world-class, diverse, and inspiring as a BBB Gala,” says Charlene Carey, artistic director of Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre.
More than a dance competition, BBB celebrates the journey as well as the art. Many dancers are from war-torn countries such as Syria or Ukraine and have overcome countless obstacles from war, threats to their lives, and visa and passport entanglements to compete and perform.
“Ballet Beyond Borders is an outlet and a lifeline for those who dance for their futures,” says Carey. “The stories are endless, inspiring and urgent.”
This year’s BBB will also launch the Don Carey Scholarship, in honor of Charlene’s husband, a long-time board member and supporter who died in September. Events throughout the week will serve as celebrations of his life and legacy in Missoula and beyond.
Among the highlights;
Book reading and signing with Ahmad Joudeh for Dance or Die: From Stateless Refugee to International Ballet Star, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC). The book offers a powerful look at refugee life in Syria, the pursuit of personal expression in the most dangerous of circumstances, and of the power of art to transcend war and suffering. It follows Ahmad from Damascus to Beirut to Amsterdam, where he finds a home with one of Europe’s top ballet troupes, and from where he continues to fight for the human rights of refugees everywhere through his art, his activism and his commitment to justice.
Demonstration Kitchen, featuring Roman dancer and master teacher Claudia Zaccari, noon Jan. 13 at the Missoula Public Library; accomplished dance shares her healthy Italian recipes (free).
Ballet Beyond Borders Gala, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the UM Dennison Theater; the highlight of the four days of global cultural exchange features international stars and BBB winners performing in styles ranging from classical ballet to hip-hop. This year’s gala will also have a special tribute to Don Carey, a lifelong musician and music educator. Tickets are $25-$95 and available from griztix.com.
Diplomacy Conference, 9 a.m.-noon at the University Center Ballroom; conversations and performances explore cultural exchange and dance as activism, impact and global diplomacy (free). Speakers include Roman Baca, a U.S. Marine war veteran and dancer, who will share “Choreographic Collaborations with People Affected by War”; Pittsburgh curator Vicky A. Clark, whose topic is “CONFLICT: Compassion or Confrontation”; Lizt Alfonso, founder of the Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba (LADC), who will talk about her work in Havana and plans for BBB to be held there in January 2024; and Zarina Vildanova, an up-and-coming Tatar singer from Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, Russia, who will perform and speak on the Alfia Avzalova Foundation and the work they do in Kazan.
Competitions and classes take place Wednesday-Friday at venues on the UM campus and are free for spectators; the awards ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the UC Ballroom.
Find more information and a complete schedule online.