Mum relocates to England so gifted daughter can ‘flourish’
Russian Thompson has thrived in the eight months since she left Bermuda for Britain.
She’s making a name for herself at the dance and music schools she attends in Manchester. At Branwood Preparatory School, she is also excelling, particularly in maths.
It’s exactly what her mother, Chauntee Thompson, hoped for when she uprooted herself and her nine-year-old last September.
“I came up with her to pursue that and to also further my studies because there’s a lot of things I want to do in my career,” she said.
“I’m a teacher, so I came here to further my education and just get experience for myself in England, but also mostly for Russian because she’s just so talented. I just wanted her to have more exposure. I wanted her talents to flourish.”
Russian took three years of lessons at United Dance Productions. Ms Thompson intended that she would resume dancing in Britain, but Covid-19 put their move plan on hold.
“Right when I felt it was settled down enough then we came, which was last September,” she said.
Manchester was a completely unfamiliar scene for Russian, who had been to Britain only once — at the age of 2.
“But she just adapted so quickly. She’s doing so much out here,” Ms Thompson said.
Her plan to put Russian in dance classes got nowhere until she discovered Empowered Studios in February.
“I got lucky because I was looking for a dance school close to our house. This school was one of the first few that popped up. It’s literally one of the best dance schools in Manchester.”
Three months in, Russian was dancing for the school in the All England Dance competition.
“Russian had two competitions, a slow routine and a fast one, and she managed to win both,” her mother said. “We are so proud of Russian for coming to the UK and representing Bermuda so well!”
Russian had never competed before but her dance teacher, Hannah Jackson, told her of her plan at their first meeting and scheduled two-hour lessons on top of her regular classes to get her ready.
“They said she would definitely be ready for the competition on May 21. And she went out there and she just blew everybody away, honestly,” Ms Thompson said.
Meanwhile, the former St David’s Primary School student has no regrets about leaving her family and friends behind.
“This dance school really has boosted up my confidence,” she said, describing her mother as her hero.
Ms Jackson said it was obvious that Russian had “exceptional talent” as soon as she walked in the studio.
“We selected her for our competition team. It’s about 20 children that we take. We teach up to 200 students a week and then we just have a select few that we invite to take part in the competitions.
“She has star quality. As soon as I saw her I knew she’d be a star. She’s fantastic.”
In the competition Russian performed “freestyle” — “a mixture of gymnastics, gymnastic skills and dance” — that the judges loved.
Eleven girls were competing. The Bermudian dancer took the first prize both times she got on stage.
“Watch this space,” her teacher said. “She’s definitely got a lot of potential and she’s going to be winning a lot more competitions in the future.”
Russian has also shown promise in vocal training, drum and violin lessons and kick-boxing and was this month celebrated at her music school, Anthem Tuition, because of her talents.
“It’s one of the best in the area as well,” said Ms Thompson.
Russian started drum lessons in Bermuda under Troy Washington. In Manchester, her teacher has been impressed that she is able to read music.
“He called me in to come and watch and said, ‘I’m going to put these notes in front of her and she has to play.’ And she played.
“Troy Washington said make sure she continues with the drums because she’s really talented. So I made sure that was one of the first things [she did]. She actually started the drum lessons and vocal training in September. We just found the dance school in February.”
As for the future, Russian is not certain which of her many talents she will focus on as a career.
“Now that we're here and she's flourishing in dance and music and stuff, we’re just trying to figure out what it all looks like,” Ms Thompson said. “We’re giving her all the gifts and tools that she will need to decide what she really wants to do.”
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