WINNIPEG — Sara Thompson, a Grade 10 student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education, won a silver medal at the IDO (International Dance Organization) world championship of ballet and jazz and modern dance held in Poland recently.
Sara won the medal in the juniors, solo female, “jazz-dance” category for her lyrical piece Dear Diary, which is about the damaging effect of teenage bullying. American Lindsey Norton was the winner of the gold medal in this category.
Dancers from 15 countries around the world competed at the Dec. 8 to 12 world championship.
Sara told The CJN that after dancing in the preliminary round of the competition, she “was hopeful of making the top 20.” In the final round, she was the only Canadian among the top eight finalists from the United States, Slovenia, Norway, Poland, Germany and Italy.
“When they called my name for the silver medal, second only to the United States, it was like being in a dream. I never expected I would accomplish this,” Sara 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. 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 pay off in the end when you are going after a goal,” she said.
Sara’s mother, Val Thompson, said that “you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium [when Sara danced]. 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.”
Sara, who has been a student at the Shelley Shearer School of Dance since she was two years old, composed words about the painful effects of teenage bullying, and a recording of the script is played while she dances. Sara’s dance trainer at the school, Lindsay Nelko, conceptualized and choreographed the dance that was performed.
Sara said it was important for 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.”
Nelko said: “ 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.”
Thompson was one of four Canadian juniors jazz soloists to represent Canada in Poland, and she was also a member of the Canadian national adult dance team.
The team won the gold medal in the “ballet,” large-group category; placed second in the “jazz-dance” small-group category and received the bronze medal in the “jazz-dance” large-group category.