Competition opens world of dance to Missoula

Byul Yun, left, and Hee Won Cho, South Korean dancers under the direction of Hae Shik Kim, perform Tuesday at the University of Montana's Dennison Theatre during the opening ceremonies of the Vienna International Ballet Experience, which selected Missoula as the location for its first-ever competition in the United States. Throughout the week, dancers from around the world will compete, in addition to film screenings, readings and a daylong conference on dance and diplomacy at the Mansfield Center that are free and open to the public. The week culminates with a ticketed gala ceremony Saturday at the Wilma. Visit rmbt.org for a schedule.

After a first run in January that saw 6,000 participants, the Vienna International Ballet Experience will return to Missoula next year.

It was the first time the event had been held in Missoula, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre.

The five days' worth of activities included an international dance competition featuring hopefuls from Missoula, the state and around the world; plus a films series, a daylong symposium on the importance of arts in diplomacy; and performances in local public schools.

Charlene Campbell Carey, the VIBE USA executive director and head of the local ballet theatre, said it "exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of attendance and the outpouring of support from the Missoula community and international dance community."

As part of the events, $50,000 worth of scholarships were given out, and six students from Missoula are headed to Austria to compete in VIBE.

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