Mission and Legacy


Founders Igor Youskevitch and Ilona Copen at NYIBC 1993, Photo: Marbeth

Throughout ten editions of its dance education program and competition focused on the art of the pas de deux, NYIBC accomplished its mission to discover and empower the world’s finest young ballet dancers, ages 17 to 24; provide them with an extraordinary multi-cultural, educational, mentoring, and artistic growth experience; advance their careers by producing performances in New York City; and promote international understanding and goodwill.

In 1983, Ilona Copen founded NYIBC in order to fill a void and satisfy a need in the global dance community. Other international ballet competitions existed, but New York, considered the dance capital of the world, did not have its own. Joined by NYIBC’s beloved first Artistic Director, Igor Youskevitch, they created NYIBC to:

  • provide young dancers from all over the world with a learning process that gave them dance experience, which significantly contributed to their growth as artists;

  • champion the classical pas de deux and modern/contemporary duet artistry and technique;

  • preserve and enhance our rich dance heritage; and,

  • advance ballet as an art form.

NYIBC’s unique dance education and performance program format, provided its participants with an unparalleled fair level playing field.

All through its rich history (1983-2013), NYIBC remained a one of a kind program and established itself as the premier opportunity for talented dancers from all over the world to: learn repertory, be coached and mentored by masters of their profession who passed their artistry on to them, perform in New York City, boost their careers and become more accomplished artists— regardless of their socio-economic status.

From its inception, NYIBC offered all participants a full scholarship to take part in the program. Once in New York, each group of 48 dancers received coaching, mentoring, housing, food, medical attention when necessary, exposure to cultural activities, and other amenities throughout the 3-week duration of the program, which finalized with the performance opportunity of a lifetime in the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Alumni from the world over provide testimony to the value and contributions of NYIBC to their personal growth, career development and the integrity of ballet as an art form.