Mississippi Loses Arts Patron

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Arts patron Thalia Mara had an international reputation as a ballet educator, credited with bringing the USA International Ballet Competition to Mississippi. She died Wednesday at a Jackson hospital. Mara was 92.

Mara had been suffering from complications from previous strokes and was in the intensive care unit at Saint Dominic/Jackson Memorial Hospital after being admitted last month.

A native of Chicago and daughter of Russian parents, Mara arrived in Jackson in 1975 to lead the now-defunct Jackson Ballet. She helped bring the IBC to Jackson in 1979.

Robert Joffrey, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, agreed to head the first international panel of jurors. Jackson has hosted the IBC every four years since 1982. The city is one of four major IBC sites worldwide, along with Varna, Bulgaria, where the first IBC was held in 19-64, Moscow and Tokyo.

In 1991, she formed the Thalia Mara Arts International Foundation, dedicated to arts education. Eight years later, the foundation's World Performance Series began bringing such artists to Jackson as the Vienna Boys Choir and Wynton Marsalis.

Leanne Mahoney, Mara's niece, says her aunt touched so many lives in Mississippi, more than she ever could imagine.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Saint Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson. Visitation will begin 12:30 p.m. at Saint Andrew's in a side parlor.