Dance for Life: Nikeata Thompson meets the Cupra Born

As a teenager, she switched from athletics to dance with seemingly effortless ease. Today, Nikeata Thompson works as a choreographer and is known for her expressiveness and poise – both in the sense of body posture as well as personal demeanor. We spoke to her about her convictions and beliefs – and why the CUPRA brand makes such a perfect match for her.
Text Nadine Hanfstein
Photo Markus Henttonen

Barcelona, this June. The legendary Primavera Sound music festival celebrates its twentieth anniversary, the most innovative and influential acts from indie rock to underground electronic perform on sixteen stages, headliners this year are Dua Lipa and Tame Impala, new official partner of the festival is CUPRA. In short: this is where it’s at! The perfect place to meet Nikeata Thompson.

Ms. Thompson, what does poise mean to you?
Poise for me means that I can be true to myself, that I know what I want, that I can say what I feel. With no ifs, ands or buts.

You seem to have an infinite amount of energy. What does strength mean to you?
For me, strength also means being able to show your weaknesses. In other words, weaknesses make me strong, because I have to work on myself. So there is no strength without weakness. It doesn’t work that way. The two go together.

Many people know you as a fashion coach from TV, but you’re also a staunch advocate of female empowerment, among other things.
That’s right. Though it’s a shame we have to say “female” empowerment. But we do, because women and men aren’t treated equally. We always need the terminology. We need to label everything. Sometimes, however, that means we forget to see the person behind the label.

Lots of people see you as a role model. How do you feel about that?
I never wanted to be a role model. It felt like such a burden. I always wanted to be free. My background is in athletics, which was also a burden, and that is why I switched to dance. I wanted to feel free. But then came the notoriety, and suddenly I was somebody. I couldn’t be free anymore. On the other hand, I have learned that it is something beautiful when people recognize you, when they come up to you with a smile and are happy to see you. That was scary for me at first, but also beautiful. At that point, I did some more introspection to figure out who I was and what I wanted. Because I’m not just there.

“I never wanted to be a role model. I always wanted to be free. My background is in athletics, which was a burden, and that is why I switched to dance. I wanted to feel free.”

Nikeata Thompson

There are some things that bother me as a woman in this society, and I can give expression to that. This makes me a symbol for other women, because I dare to say what they think. I understood that at some point. It’s a bit like being a chosen one. It made me realize that my voice is heard. That my voice is important. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable always saying what I think, but I know I can help other people by doing it. I also know that I tend to polarize. That’s always been the case, and I’m sure that opinions about me are quite divided. But that doesn’t bother me so much anymore. I stand by who I am. I wasn’t put on this earth to stay quiet.

Is there such a thing as the perfect solution to injustice?
I think we will have gotten there once we no longer need to label things. Everything that has a label seems like a problem. It’s just not considered normal. It is sad that we even have to label equality as such. But we have to do it because there still is no equality between men and women. As a woman, you have a different starting level than as a man. But if women stay quiet and we don’t express ourselves, then it’s as if we didn’t exist.

NIKEATA THOMPSON was born in Birmingham, England, on August 14, 1980, and came to Germany when she was six years old. She grew up in Wermelskirchen near Cologne, trained as a hurdler in her teens, became German champion, but decided to switch to dance when she was nineteen. The band Seeed first recognized her talent, and appearances with Helene Fischer, Jan Delay and Udo Lindenberg soon followed. Today she works mainly as a choreographer and coach on TV, and in 2011 she founded her own dance agency. Her autobiography, Schwarz auf weiß: Trau dich zu träumen und schaff das Unmögliche [Black on White: Dare to Dream and Achieve the Impossible], was published in 2021. Something many people might not know is that Nikeata Thompson has never taken a dance class in her life.

“I know that I tend to polarize. I’m sure that opinions about me are quite divided. But that doesn’t bother me so much anymore. I stand by who I am. I wasn’t put on this earth to stay quiet.”

Nikeata Thompson

What you're saying is that labels are temporary, but that we need them for now?
What we really have to understand is that we’re all just people, not men or women or whatever gender you identify as. There is more than that. We just have to understand that we aren’t that important, but that we’re just here to live and let live.

You’re a brand ambassador for CUPRA. Tell us about that, won’t you?
CUPRA is a brand that is here to stay. In some ways, we have a similar story: I was a background dancer, then came notoriety, but people didn’t see me coming – suddenly I was just there and had something to say. CUPRA also sees those people who are often not noticed. Even though I have a certain level of recognition today, I am not noticed at all in many places. And CUPRA puts the spotlight on controversial people. I’m a woman, I’m a person of color, I’m loud, I have short hair. But CUPRA says, “Nikeata, you’re perfect just the way you are.” And I think that’s pretty courageous.

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