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To Dance, To Live: A Biography of Thalia Mara

Available May 2023

Thalia Mara's story spans the history of dance in the twentieth century and the rise of the arts in her adopted city of Jackson, Mississippi. As an adolescent Mara (1911–2003) studied with renowned Russian teacher Adolph Bolm, who recommended she go at age sixteen to Paris for further study. During a tour in Europe and South America, she met her partner in dance and life, Arthur Mahoney, and they dazzled the world with their breathtaking performances during the 1930s and '40s. The two were named codirectors of Jacob's Pillow in 1947, gracing the cover of Life magazine that year. Later they started two schools of dance in New York City, but despite much success, they closed due to lack of funding. That misfortune, however, was Jackson's boon as it led Mara to the second phase of her career: reviving the Jackson Ballet Company and bringing the USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) to the state.


Thalia Mara was recognized at the end of her life not only for the USA IBC's decision to locate in Jackson, but also for her efforts as a patron of the arts. Her extraordinary fundraising and planning attracted international performers to the city in the 1980s and '90s. To Dance, to Live: A Biography of Thalia Mara gives the first full account of a life devoted to the arts.