Mississippi dancer Alexei Orohovsky, 16, was awarded the junior men’s gold medal in the XII USA International Ballet Competition at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Miss., on Friday, June 23, in an announcement greeted by whoops, whistles and fervent applause from the home-state crowd. The young dancer was among several crowd favorites in two weeks of intense competition at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson.
Earlier this month, Orohovsky, who grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., told the Mississippi Free Press that he was excited “that I’m able to represent something so great.”
“I love it, being in Mississippi. It’s great to have more people in my home state, especially related to ballet,” he said.
He said his goal going into the competition was “just to enjoy it, and to enjoy the experience of the IBC.”
“I mean, of course, if I could win, I would love that, but that’s not going to be No. 1 priority. It’s going to be dancing to the best of my ability,” he said.
Throughout the competition, Orohovsky’s combination of explosive power and light grace earned an ardent following—and scores that pushed him to the top of his category. The dancer has most recently trained at the renowned John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany. His teacher there, Tadeusz Matacz, said that when on stage, “Alexei feels like a fish in water.”
“With visible joy he dances the variations, which are peppered with technical difficulties,” the teacher said. He also praised the young dancer’s excellent coordination, power, lightness and his specialty in pirouettes, which Matacz said he masters “in a virtuoso manner.”
“He’s a very, very special dancer,” USA IBC Jury Chairman John Meehan said at a Thursday, June 22, announcement of dancers moving on to the Awards Gala. Medals and other prizes were announced from the stage at the awards gala Friday night.
Orohovsky was the sole Mississippi competitor out of nearly 100 dancers in the USA IBC. He previously won the Youth Grand Prix, the top prize in his division, at the YAGP 2022. Just over a month later, as the youngest competitor by two years, he earned a junior men’s silver medal in the 2022 Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Alexei Orohovsky is among just a handful of Mississippians to compete at the USA IBC since its launch in 1979—a count that includes Kathy Thibodeaux (silver medalist in 1982), Sarah Newman and Jon Drake.
Other medal winners in the 2023 USA IBC competition included: Julie Joyner of the United States, junior women’s bronze; Yan Mengxuan of China, junior women’s gold (no silver awarded in the junior women’s category); Kong Zihan of China, junior men’s bronze; Kangwon Lee of South Korea, junior men’s silver; Yunju Lee of South Korea, senior women’s bronze; Zhao Xinyue of China, senior women’s silver; Sayako Toku of Japan, senior women’s gold; Yuval Cohn of Israel, senior men’s bronze; Guan Chongzheng of China, senior men’s silver; and Ryo Sasaki of Japan, senior men’s gold.