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Thompson also part of Canadian team to win the gold medal in the Ballet large group category

By Rhonda Spivak, December 15, 2010

[Editor's note: A version of this story was published in the Jerusalem Post  on Sunday December 19,2010:


Sara Thompson, a grade 10 student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education, has won the Silver medal, ranking her as number two in the world in the IDO (International Dance Organization) World Championship of Jazz and Modern Dance held in Poland.  Thompson won  the Silver Medal  out of  39 competitors from 15 counties around the world  for her lyrical piece entitled “Dear Dairy” which is about  the damaging effect of teenage  bullying.

After dancing in the preliminary round Sara was hopeful of making the top twenty. In the final round, she was the only Canadian among top eight finalists remaining from 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,” said Thompson

Thompson added, “It meant so much to me to perform this solo on the world stage because bullying transcends race and language, it happens to everyone. 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,”

Val Thompson, Sara’s mother, told 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.”

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

Thompson was also one of four Canadian Junior Jazz soloists to represent  Canada on the world stage in Poland , and was a member of the Canadian National Adult Dance team.
“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 Jazz Large group Category.

The lyrics of Sarah’s Dear Diary lyrical  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]

In an earlier interview, Thompson told the Winnipeg Jewish Review 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.

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 abuse.”

Sara Thompson Lyrical Solo – Dear Diary

Dear diary,
Today at school I realized I wasn’t the same as everyone else..........
I thought I was...
I go to sleep at night... wake up in the morning... do the same homework as everyone else and I take the bus to school...
But I sit alone.................... I sit alone in class, I play alone at recess... I see the other girls laughing while I read my book... is that bad?
I watch them share secrets with each other... now I know they are all about me... I want to be sitting with them but I can’t find the courage to go over there. 
Sometimes I day dream about being one of them! But then I look around... I realize no one is around me.
Do you know how it feels? ...  To want to talk to someone sooooo bad! But deep down you know they want nothing to do with you...
Like... you know that feeling when you’re having the best dream of your life... and then you wake up and realize none of it happened...... and then everything that day seems horrible... well now you understand how I feel every day.
...She walks up to me with the rest of them walking behind her.
I try to think maybe this time she is coming to tell me she likes my hair or ask me to come sit with her!
Who am I kidding I knew what was coming...
She looks me up and down...
 I want to run away but I am trapped in a box... it is like my feet are nailed to the ground ....thinking of what she could possibly come up with now...
My skin is to pail, my arms are too long, my hair is ugly.....
My heart is beating in my ears and my head is spinning and spinning and spinning...
And then it stops... (2 deep breaths)
Why didn’t I stand up for myself?
Why did I just stand there?
All she had to do was look at me!
When I look in the mirror I don’t notice any of these things...
My mom tells me I’m pretty...
I used to think that was good enough...
I guess what I’m trying to say is...
Do you know what it feels like to be bullied? ...............
I do.

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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.