Gymnastics as choreography

International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile posted a list of “Skills and Combinations I’d Rather Not See (Anymore)” on the magazine’s website last week.

I agree with almost everything he’s written, particuarly his critique of side somie on beam, which he characterizes as “better suited for the circus, where an acrobat does about 10 of them in a row as he circles the ring.” Amen.

Not too long ago, Normile also posted a list of skills and combinations he’d love to see more of. Among them: Full-twisting Arabian dive rolls on floor exercise (think Soviet great Oksana Omelienchik), an Ono to an immediate full pirouette to elgrip on uneven bars and dismounts directly after release skills on high bar.

Oksana Omelienchik, 1985 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

What I feel is most lacking in women’s gymnastics today is real choreography on floor exercise. A twisting jump is not choreography. Nor is a roundoff, double full side pass.

Granted, not everyone has the balletic acumen of a Nastia Liukin.

But these non-balletic gymnasts have in the past made better use of simple gymnastics moves for choreography. A back handspring is unexpected, crowd-pleasing and fits very well into a lot of routines. Kim Zmeskal, for one, used it to great effect in her lively floor routines. So did Gina Gogean.

Kim Zmeskal, 1990 Goodwill Games All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Gina Gogean, 1997 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

And who could forget Chellsie Memmel’s back-extension roll to headspring, or the showstopping finish to her 2003 floor routine?

Chellsie Memmel, 2003 World Championships Team Finals, Floor Exercise:

None of these three were exactly ballerinas. But their choreogprahers found gymnastics elements that fit the music. More of that, please.

Even Shannon Miller, who was something of a dancer, used a back handspring in the floor routine she used form 1992 to 1994. She also had a lovely (and fairly unnecessary) roundoff, full-twisting back handspring.

Shannon Miller, 1992 Olympics Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

In the NCAA, where pleasing the crowd and showing personality are given much more attention, flips that land on the belly are popular. Also understandable — even the most seasoned gymanstics-watcher can’t help but go “Wow!” when they fit the music.

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5 Responses to “Gymnastics as choreography”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    yes it seems like today that you can just stand there while flourishing your arms and kinda moving your upperbody to the music but thats the extent of any choreography

  2. Katrina Says:

    I can’t remember where I read it but… Full-twisting Arabian dive rolls are and can be dangerous… *shrugs* The only major thing I would like to see is more choreography

  3. Nancy Says:

    I agree. You don’t need to be a ballerina to put on a good show on floor. Another example might be Oksana Chusovitina’s 1991 routine at the World Championships in Indianapolis. She hasn’t had one since then that has been it’s equal but for someone who isn’t a dancer, it wasn’t bad. Good music choice. Yes, she did a superfluous pass after her layout full out but the form and height almost make it worth it.

  4. steph Says:

    hi iam really need help with my routine i dont have music but
    this is my routines and i need moves
    between them
    scissor jum
    full spin
    handstand 4 oll
    split leap
    shouder stand
    y balance
    round off
    head stand
    dolly roll
    and i dont know what can be my end position

  5. Burn Fat Says:

    Geez, everytime I see blogs this good I just want mine to be there already! 🙂 Great work. I blog about the rapid weight loss effects of resveratrol.

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