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Sara Thompson


By Rhonda Spivak, May 19, 2010

Fourteen year old Gray Academy of Jewish education student Sara Thompson has won first place overall in the junior soloist category of the Canadian National Dance Competition for her lyrical piece entitled “Dear Dairy” which is about the damaging effect of teenage bullying. As a result of her victory at the competition last month, Thompson, who was also awarded an elite gold medal, has been chosen to represent Canada as one of only three soloists in the junior division at the World International Dance Organization [IDO] Jazz Championships in Poland in December 2010.

In addition to her other notable achievements, Thompson also placed first in the “Ballet, Jazz and Lyrical Solo Division”  in the junior category.

When asked what her  reaction was on hearing she won the competition, Thompson replied, ”When I heard my name called it was like I was in a dream. I was so surprised and happy! There were so many accomplished dancers so to be named as the 1st place overall was overwhelming to me. I didn’t expect that.”

Thompson, 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 Lindsay Nelko, of the Shelley Shearer School of Dance conceptualized and  choreographed  the original dance which Thompson performed.[

The lyrics of the 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...” [the complete lyrics of the dance are set out at the end of this article]

Thompson told the Independent that  it was important  to her to  confront the problem of  teenage bullying through the medium of dance: “I wanted to do something meaningful that would let kids know that bullying can happen to anyone and they shouldn’t feel alone. 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 Theatre began her competitive solo training at the age of 11.

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, “As hundreds of people watched the performance you could hear a pin drop. 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 abuse.”

Thompson noted, “ I have won 1st place awards in my age categories before and I won the Junior Lyrical Scholarship last year at the Manitoba Dance Festival but this is the first time I have ever been awarded the overall Soloist award at the Canadian National Competition.”

Thompson said she is very excited to go to Poland to represent Canada in the upcoming world championships. “It is an incredible honor to be representing my country in an art that I love. I have never been to Poland before so I am very excited to see the country that my grandmother’s ancestors are from…My Mom and Dad will come with me [to Poland]as well as my coach and choreographer Lindsay Nelko. They are very excited to come and watch me compete. “

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.