Endorsement from a Competitor's Number

Dear Charlene and BBB team, 

 Thank you so much for providing this amazing international dance competition platform for young dancers to showcase their works and get to meet and learn from Internationally renowned teachers, choreographers, and artistic directors from all over the world.

Just want to let you know that My Daughter Ana Wu had an absolutely wonderful time during the week of BBB, she truly enjoyed all her master classes and performing on stage!! This was the first time ever for her to travel outside Vancouver, Canada to compete in an international competition. She will forever remember and treasure this amazing experience. Now Missoula has a very special place in our heart! We loved the people and the time that we spend here! The Missoula people are so kind and generously donating their time to help our international dancers. They make sure we can get to all the places when we need help! They are so supportive and made us feel at home!! Ana spoke so enthusiastically of her time at BBB last week and it was truly an inspiring week for her! She is very grateful for every correction she gets from guest instructors, also sharing their knowledges with the young dancers!!! During this experience, not only Ana gained priceless knowledge also she had the opportunity to watch other talented dancers from all around the world from different age groups and dance in different art form!! Dance is such universal language, it connect all of us from different part of world! It was truly inspiring and made her want to work even harder and be a better version of herself!!! 

Thank you again from bottom of my heart, and hope see you soon!! We will be back, Missoula!!  


Best regards 

Lilly Wu 

Parent of Ana Wu (Goh Ballet Student) 

Ballet Beyond Borders: Romanian dancers on the art of the duo

Romanian dancer Alina Ciceo isn’t competing in her third year attending Ballet Beyond Borders.

But Wednesday, as she sat in the Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana and watched dancers move about during an open practice sessions, she missed the pressure.

“Seeing them on the stage,” Ciceo said, “I want to feel those butterflies in my stomach again.”

Ciceo turned to her partner Radu Domsa and asked if he was nervous for his turn in that afternoon’s competition.

“This is what I trained for,” he replied. “I’m ready.”

He would soon get up to change and warm up. Ciceo promised to be there soon to fix his hair.

Domsa and Ciceo have been dancing together for around seven years, and have been a couple for five. They live in Cluj-Napoca, a city of around 400,000 people in northwest Romania.

The two started dancing together when Ciceo recruited dancers for her company and was impressed by Domsa’s skills, even though he was still in high school (and got his start as a break dancer).

After a summer performing in Greece, the two realized they had something as a duo and proceeded to work together self-instructed, which resulted in a unique style and deep connection.

“It’s like only one heart beating at a time,” Domsa said. “The energy you can create together is fabulous.”

Ciceo added, “now we just look at each other and know what’s next.”

Although Domsa is competing and Ciceo is judging, the two were most excited for their duet performance during Ballet Beyond Borders’ closing gala Saturday night.

The two have won many awards in previous years, for individual and duet performances, but they say it’s not about the awards, or even for the thrill of competition.

Rather, unlike the European dance festivals they frequent, Domsa and Ciceo said they love Ballet Beyond Borders’ encouraging, growth-focused atmosphere.

“The judges try to connect with the dancers. It’s about the exchange,” Domsa said. “It’s about that feedback and growth.”

Ciceo is on a jury for the first time this year, and is excited to be on the other side of that exchange.

She’s continually impressed with how internationally diverse Ballet Beyond Borders is, and loves the chance to share her love of dance with people from so many cultures and backgrounds.

Being a performing artist is a hard profession no matter where one lives, Ciceo said. It shrinks the world to meet someone from Russia or China or Cuba who has the same passion and similar struggles.

“It’s very difficult to live with this profession, but we keep doing it,” she said. “The people who make these (festivals) happen, they don’t let us die.”

This is the only American festival the two attend, largely due to the expense. But after three years in a row, Domsa and Ciceo aren’t ready to stop coming.

“Back home we finish the holiday stuff and come here, and it’s like another holiday,” Domsa said.

“Everytime we discover something new,” Ciceo added. “This is a good vibe we all get.”

Thankful for Ballet Beyond Borders

I (BBB)elieve in Missoula.

This week is one of Missoula’s most remarkable events, Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB), which brings together dancers (all genres) from around the world. Missoula dancers are in the mix, and their skill and artistry are world class. It is a truly great display of diversity, diplomacy, art and heart.

I invite Missoula to join me in in the Dennison theater for free to gasp, cheer, and remember how global connections can be made through universal languages like dance and home. Dance competition. Opening party. Film. Diplomacy Conference. Gala performance.

I am a parent of a young dancer, whose first dance class was inspired by watching BBB. And now, because of BBB he has traveled to and danced in countries I have never even seen. I want all of the dancers to feel the unique support that Missoula offers.

Thank you to Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater for the enormous lift, cost and efforts that go into this event. Thanks to Missoula and all who support, house, feed, drive, cheer and donate. And to the dancers, thank you for sharing the world with us.


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BBB the change you want to see.

Full schedule: www.rmbt.org/bbb-index#/bbb-schedule.

Elke Govertsen,


Healing dance: Jingle dress dancer dedicates performance to missing native women

The sound of jingling metal cones emanated through the University Center Ballroom as Kya-Rae Arthur bopped up and down while performing a jingle dress dance at the Ballet Beyond Borders Creative Crossroads event on Saturday.

Arthur’s homemade dress featured rows of shiny metal cones that clanked against each other while she moved in a circle and practiced a pattern of intricate footwork.

“It's just something that I grew up watching and learning,” Arthur said. “You kind of just learn over time from everybody in your family.”

Arthur, who holds the title for Miss Salish Kootenai College, is of Navajo descent on her father’s side, and Chippewa-Cree, Oglala Lakota and Pend d’Oreille on her mother’s side.

Her performance was one of several throughout the day that represented different cultures and varying forms of dance. Panel discussions and presentations accompanied each dance to elaborate on cultural topics and issues.

Prior to performing, Arthur participated in a panel discussion for the Hidden Tears Project with choreographer and filmmaker Jordan Marinov, who also performed. The panel discussed human trafficking and ongoing problems related to missing and murdered indigenous women.

The topic of missing and murdered indigenous women is one that has recently come to the fore, both locally and nationally. However, it's been an issue for as far back as Arthur can remember.

“My personal experience…” Arthur said, choking up. “My cousin went missing this past year, here in Missoula at the Orange Street Food Farm. Her name is Jermain Charlo and people still haven't been able to find her.”

Charlo, a 23-year-old woman, hasn't been seen since she went missing in the early morning hours of June 16. Local and tribal police, as well as the FBI, have spent hundreds of hours looking for Charlo.

Arthur dedicated her dance to Charlo and explained that jingle dress dances are traditionally healing dances. Throughout the 19th century, Arthur said powwows became “more commercial” and developed jingle dress dance competitions. However, the dance is still used for healing purposes.

“I don’t have a lot of experience watching Native American dancing, but I’m always mesmerized by how internal the feeling is,” said audience member Harriet Alterowitz. “It looked like it was her own experience.”

Arthur finished her dance and wandered into the hallway to catch her breath where she met Lowell Hochhalter, the director of the Lifeguard Group, a nonprofit that works with law enforcement agencies to track down both victims and perpetrators of human trafficking through a team of experts and volunteers. Hochhalter also participated on the panel with Arthur.

“You could almost tell as she was dancing that she was carrying that weight of what she was representing,” Hochhalter said.

Hochhalter approached Arthur after the performance.

“She said she was going to wear a traditional dress that weighs 20 pounds but she said it was super heavy,” Hochhalter said. “I thought, ‘That is nothing compared to the weight of what it represents.’”

The traditional dress that Arthur originally planned to wear is made of 365 deer hooves, one for each day of the year.

“Since the deer hooves are a really strong medicine for healing, I don't just wear it for anything,” Arthur said.

Arthur opted for one of the many dresses she has made, representing both her upbringing and her culture.

As a kid, Arthur learned to make her own regalia from her mother, who would ask her to help. Now, she makes dresses and dance outfits and specializes in quillwork and rawhide. She also teaches others in classes through grant-funded programs where she works with different tribes and reservations. She also teaches occasional classes at the Payne Native American Center.

The jingle dress she wore Saturday featured a mustard yellow and brown patterned fabric with a blue geometric design adorned with gold metal cones. A belt pulled the dress around her waist and pink, lavender and blue ribbons flanked her waist and wrists.

“I got it because the fabric reminds me of buckskin,” Arthur said. “It seemed more contemporary and I like the colors because it reminds me of the sky and the sun setting and rising.”

Arthur said that everything she makes is inspired by what she sees in nature.

“On my phone, I'm always taking pictures of random plants because I'll just see it and then I think ‘Oh, that would look really good on a dress’ or ‘That would look good in beadwork,’” she said. “Traditionally, everything we did was based on things that were around us so I try and keep that value in my work.”

Arthur participates in dance competitions across the world. She has performed in Canada, China and Mexico, in addition to performing for Congress and the USDA.

Arthur said she is no stranger to the issues native women face such as domestic violence.

“It's a hard issue to talk about, especially when people that are really close to you are affected by it,” she said. “It's emotional. Even just talking today, I had anxiety because I didn't know what to say. It's a very important issue but it feels hopeless almost.”

Hochhalter said it’s people like Arthur who help humanize the issue.

“When she said ‘We can talk about murdered and missing indigenous women, but this is my cousin,’ we all felt that emotion in that moment,” Hochhalter said.

Hochhalter said he thinks it’s more important that people focus on individuals affected by human trafficking, rather than just looking at the broader issue.

“When we do that as the culture, it allows us to compartmentalize it,” he said. “We put it in this box and we put it up on the shelf alongside all these other issues. Then, we’re able to step back and point a finger and say ‘Who’s going to take care of that?’”

Instead, Hochhalter said it’s more important to focus on the individual. Through his work with the Lifeguard Group, Hochhalter has helped organize 16 searches for Charlo. He urged others to become involved in whatever way they can, noting that the searches the Lifeguard Group conducts are largely made possible by a team of volunteers who assist local law enforcement.

Hochhalter also said that searching for missing women can also feel hopeless at times, but he doesn’t see that as a reason to give up. In the meantime, he said the most meaningful thing he can offer is comfort to those searching for their loved one.

In regard to Charlo, he said he feels like they’ve said everything there is to say.

“When I see the family, and we meet often, it’s just an embrace,” Hochhalter said. “I mean, what are you going to say? It's just the embrace and the connection that communicates the loudest.”

Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre: Creating a better world through dance


When you look at the headlines, it can be disheartening to see rising global tensions and deteriorating international relations. It’s times like these when I believe our responsibilities as global citizens and cultural ambassadors are arguably the most important functions that the arts play in our society.

When I opened Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre more than 20 years ago, I had dreamt of giving young pre- professional athletes the opportunity to see the world through dance. I also dreamt of bringing the world to Montana to foster cultural exchange.

Our students just returned from tours in China and Russia. As the only American dance organization represented at a dance festival in Kazan, we felt a great responsibility to put our nation and state’s best foot forward through our participation. The festival’s slogan was, “Music is the language of the people of the world.”

When I said I was going to Kazan, most people said they’d never heard of it. With well over a million people, it is the sixth largest city in Russia with a greaterpopulation than the entire state of Montana. Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, a semi-autonomous region with two national languages: Russian and Tatar. It is situated where the Kazanka River meets the Volga and is about nine hours east of Moscow by car.

We were there for the First International Festival-Contest named after Alfia Avzalova, a famous Tatar singer who died in 2017. Even though we didn’t arrive until past midnight, Alfia Avzalova’s daughter, Sofia, and her husband, Ravil Nigmedzyanov, two of the chief festival organizers, came to the airport to meet us. Our attendance at the festival was ten years in the making. Ravil and I met ten years ago in Washington, D. C.

At the festival gala, highlights included RMBT’s unique brand of cowboy-ballet, championship Salish Kootenai fancy dancing from Louis Plant and hip-hop sensation, Kasper. All of our performances took place before a backdrop of filmed Big Sky Country images. It seemed that the crowd had never experienced anything quite like it and offered rousing support.

As the festival drew to a conclusion, we marveled at the connections and shared experiences of people from Russia, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Montana. As our musical director, Karen Carreno, perfectly put it, “This is why we do this.”

We anticipate bringing the same spirit of enlightenment and cooperation to Ballet Beyond Borders 2019 which will take place January 9 – 12, in Missoula. RMBT travels the world. In January, the world is coming to Montana.

We look forward to welcoming the international dancers with the same overwhelming hospitality and warmth they’ve shown us. When bodies move, minds soar. When cultural connections deepen, dance becomes a form of diplomacy that helps foster the kind of understanding so desperately needed in our global community.

Charlene Campbell-Carey is the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre’s artistic director.


Link to article online

The Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre announced this week that it will travel to China and Russia to perform in several cities.

Artistic Director Charlene Campbell Carey said the trip is part of an ongoing cultural exchange.

“We’re leaving for China on September 5th,” Campbell Carey began. “We’re going to see them in their habitat which is in Xian at the beginning of the Silk Road. We’ve never even been close to that region in China, it’s been primarily Beijing and Shanghai and many other smaller cities.”

From the organization’s press release:

‘RMBT’s Montana themed ballets offer the flavor of Montana. No RMBT cultural exchange would be complete without the participation of the Native Americans. Four championship dancers from the Salish-Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes will be participating. After the Silk Road Arts Festival, the group travels to Beijing to take their unique program to Chongqing’s Southwest University of Politics and Law and Beijing Normal University. These performances are sponsored in part by the Confucius Institute at the University of Montana under the direction of Suhan Chen.’

RMBT has received a U.S. State Department grant to participate in the first Alfia Avzalova Festival in Kazan, Russia. RMBT was the only US arts group to be invited to perform at the festival. In addition to Montana themed ballets and championship Native American dancers, this diplomatic, cultural tour will include renowned singer Suzanne Carey, a native Montana who now stings professionally in Vienna, Austria.’

Following that extensive road trip, the group returns to its home base in Missoula to present the 2019 ‘Ballet Beyond Borders’.

“Save the dates, January 9 through 12,” she said. “We already have dancers coming from Israel and Indonesia, along with a group from Brazil this year. I know that anyone who’s ever attended, it’s not just a fun event, they really do get some very warm and fuzzy feelings of being a proud Montanan and forging these new friendships with people from around the world.”

Most of the judging and performances will be at the Dennison Theater on the UM Campus and are free to the public, with the only exception being the finale gala.

Letter to BBB from Kate Jordan of Arts & Above

Dear Performers, Students, Teachers, Coaches, Choreographers, Musicians, Speakers, Parents, Audience Members, Host Families, Technical Crew, and more,


After a week since the conclusion of events, and as we have returned to our prospective home-bases, know that I send you my deepest gratitude and awe for the collective happenings we created together here in Missoula, Montana. Many of you I connected with in person, and deeply, others from a distance, but still in meaningful ways and intangibly essential ways.

I was drawn to dance in my elementary years as a mode of expression, transformation, creativity, rigor, physicality, and uniqueness, and for these reasons have dedicated my life to it. I was drawn to dance in my adolescent years, and forward, for its natural capacity to converge diverse thinkers, believers, and of course movers.

This now annual event in Missoula is dually a charging station, and a launching point for such pacesetters in our field. I dearly desire us to be clear in our trajectories, open in our routes, communicative in our passions and challenges, and unforgivingly loud with our dreams.

I’m honored to have joined together with all, and I’m hopeful for the effects we will continue to have on ourselves, each other, and the world through our journeys as dance artists.

Respectfully yours,

Kate Jordan Augusto, Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director

Arts & Above



Missoula.com - Ballet Beyond Borders Gala Finale

Saturday, January 13th, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – 11:59 pm Dennison Theatre

Ballet Beyond Borders Gala Finale is the celebration and culmination of five important days of global cultural exchange and the results of the international dance challenge and diplomacy conference. International stars and BBB winners will perform in styles ranging from classical ballet to hip hop. Don't miss this truly spectacular event...