Canadian Jewish Dancer 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WINNIPEG – A 10th-grade student at Manitoba’s Gray Academy of Jewish Education
came in second place at the International Dance Organization World Championship
of Jazz and Modern Dance in Poland last week.
Sara Thompson won the
silver medal out of 39 competitors from 15 counties for her lyrical piece
entitled “Dear Diary,” which is about the damaging effect of teenage
After dancing in the preliminary round, Thompson was hopeful
that she’d make the top 20. In the final round, she was the only Canadian among
top eight finalists, with the rest from the US, Slovenia, Norway, Poland,
Germany and Italy.
“When they called my name for the silver medal, second
only to the [dancer from] the United States, it was like being in a dream. I
never expected I would accomplish this,” Thompson said.
“It meant so much
to me to perform this solo on the world stage because bullying transcends race
and language; it happens to everyone,” she said. “All kids all over the world
should know that bullying can happen to anyone and they should never feel
alone... This experience has been extremely positive for me.
I have made
lifelong friendships and learned that hard work, determination and sacrifice
pays off in the end when you are going after a goal.”
Her mother, Val
Thompson, the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “You could hear a pin drop in the
auditorium. Even though Sara’s words were in English and we were in Poland, her
body movements and facial expressions painted an emotional picture of a young
teen enduring the pain of bullying. Her message was universal.”
who has been dancing at the Shelley Shearer School of Dance since she was only
two years old, composed words about the painful effects of teenage bullying,
recorded them and then performed her story through the medium of dance.
Thompson’s dance trainer at the school, Lindsay Nelko, conceptualized and
choreographed the dance. Thompson was one of four Canadian Junior Jazz soloists
to represent Canada on the world stage in Poland.
“As a team we the gold
medal in the ballet large group category, placed second in the small jazz group
category and received the bronze medal in the jazz large group category,” she
Some of the lyrics of her “Dear Diary” lyrical dance read: “Do you
know how it feels?... To want to talk to someone... But deep down you know they
want nothing to do with you.”
Thompson said that it was important to her
to confront the problem of teenage bullying through the medium of
“I wanted to do something meaningful that would let kids know that
bullying can happen to anyone and they shouldn’t feel alone,” she said. “Most of
all, they should never be afraid to speak out and tell someone. It is so
important that young people feel good about themselves, because each person has
something unique and special to offer.”
Thompson, who trains in ballet,
jazz, hip hop, lyrical and musical theater, began her competitive solo training
at the age of 11. She is a member of the Canadian National Adult Dance
In an earlier interview, Nelko said that working on this creative
endeavor with Thompson was a “unique opportunity” to raise awareness about the
damaging effects of bullying.
“Sara wrote a powerful story that I used as
the basis for the dance. It was decided that spoken word alone would have a
greater impact than any music or song would for this concept. The effect of the
solo is that of peering into the soul and mind of a girl who has been bullied.
The dance enabled us to highlight the emotional impact and we could see it
resonating with everyone in the audience.”
Nelko added, “Sara’s personal
perspective on this project and her wonderful ability to portray and execute
this piece is something special to behold. I feel privileged to have
collaborated with Sara, and I hope the story resonates with students of all ages
and opens their eyes to the effects of bullying. Our hope is to empower students
to speak up and unite together against this devastating form of
Rhonda Spivak is the editor of e-paper