Bridget Tilley, an 11-year-old world champion ballroom dancer from Hedge End in Hampshire, England, has begun dancing solo. In an interview with BBC News, the young star said that a lack of young male dancers made it hard to find capable partners — so she decided to just dance by herself instead.
“You focus on yourself. You just have to do your own thing,” Tilley explained. “A stereotypical boy plays football. I think it’s just natural for a boy not to come to this environment. But I think that most boys who do quite enjoy it.”
Tilley, who is now training up to five times a day in preparation for the U.K.’s Stars of the Future Under 12 Solo, also shared a special moment from one of her crowning achievements in the sport: a remarkable win at the Open World Medallist Ballroom U12 in Paris.
“It was really special because they played the national anthem and my mum stood there crying, and my dad was crying, and my partner was crying,” she recalled, smiling at the memory. “Everyone was crying, but I wasn’t crying.”
Tilley’s mother, Lucy, said she could still remember that evening in perfect detail.
“She just looked so elegant and graceful,” said Lucy, adding that it wasn’t the only time her daughter’s performance had brought her to tears, either.
“The first time I watched her I started to cry, I was so very proud,” she said, beaming. “I just love to watch her dance. I think it’s only a feeling a parent probably can feel. It’s hard to describe. Just watching your child do something that they love and are brilliant at.”
Watch BBC News’ interview with the star dancer below.