Rhythmic Gymnastics, a sport that has been a part of the Olympics since 1984, is a melding of dance and gymnastics with the addition of an apparatus. The sport has been evolving since the late 19th century but really came into its own, competitively, in the early to mid-1900’s in the U.S.S.R.
What really sets rhythmic gymnastics apart from both dance and gymnastic routines such as the floor exercise is the required apparatus. Participants are expected to compete gymnastic routines with the grace of a ballerina while integrating an apparatus in the choreography.
There are five apparatuses:
- The rope: a length of material proportionate to the gymnast’s body. “Rope is a very dynamic apparatus requiring agility, jumping ability and coordination. The rope’s shape throughout the routine should remain well designed, without any curves.”
- The hoop: A hoop with a diameter of 80-90 cm (approx. 31.5-35.5 inches) and a minimum weight of 300 grams (0.88 pounds), “The hoop must be rigid enough to retain its shape…It must be used on all levels and planes. Any vibration of the hoop in the air is penalized.”
- The ball: A rubber or synthetic material that is 18-20 cm (7-7.9 inches) in diameter. “Ball is by tradition an elegant and “lyrical” rather than a dynamic apparatus. The ball should rest in the gymnast’s hand and not against the wrist, all the time during performance; no grip is allowed, the movement should be flowing and sensuous.”
- The clubs: Two clubs that are 45-50 cm (17.7-19.7 inches) long, weighing 150 grams (0.33 lb). “Clubs are a great ‘hand – game’! Their handling requires rhythmic work, psychomotor coordination and clockwork precision. Clubs are especially popular with ambidextrous gymnasts.”
- The ribbon: First introduced in 1971, the satin ribbon measuring at least six meters (almost 20 feet) is attached to and manipulated by a stick roughly 20 inches long. “The movements with the ribbon should be large and freeflowing. Any knots in the ribbon are penalized. Its function is to create clearly outlined designs in space. Working with the ribbon requires strength of the shoulder and arm muscles.”
In Minnesota, rhythmic gymnastics is still in its infancy although there are some young stars emerging including Kiana Eide, from Minnesota and is now on the U.S. national team.
Another young talent is Hayley Miller, who recently was asked to try out for the U.S. Junior National Team. Hayley is twelve and will be traveling to Texas later this month to train as one of fifty young ladies looking for a spot on the six member Junior National team. You can help Hayley get there; she has created a GoFundMe campaign to help with her costs.
Check back at The Minnesota Sports Report for more on this growing sport in Minnesota.