Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Putting the “artistic” in “artistic gymnastics”

Today’s list is dedicated to the girls who were the best at putting stuff between the tumbles!

The Ballerina’s

The LiliPod is number one to me. That girl was sooo good on floor. I mean, she did fouettes for crying out loud! For those of you who don’t know them, they are the fancy pirouettes she turned in the middle of her AA winning floor routine with one leg lifted up and rotating from the knee as she spun. Fouettes are notorious in the ballet world because in one particular ballet, I think it is Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty, the ballerina has to perform a ridiculous thirty-two of them in a row! It was such a well known fact that dance audiences used to count as they did turned to make sure they completed the full set! Even the greatest dancers, like Fonteyn and Guillem used to pray they’d get through them without losing balance or steam! And our Lilipod did a handful of them with no toe shoes and on matting. Amazing.

Anna Pavs should get a medal for almost single-handedly providing the only shred of grace and poise and artistry among the Beijing 2008 floor routines. Her only companion in dance was
Nastia Liukin, but everybody has gone on enough about her already. Nastia’s a gorgeous dancer. ‘nuff said.

Queen "Jazz Hands" Khorky. She always looked great, though I always thought she was more of a poser than a dancer. They were very graceful poses though, and besides, posing worked for Madonna for years!
Her Majesty also gets points for “dancing” out of tricky landings. If you can’t be good, be smart I say.

The Sass factor

Dasha Joura wins the saucy little minx award for 2006, 7 and 8. What a bewitchingly great floor routine. I never got sick of it. Some of the best music too.

Speaking of saucy minxes, Tasha Schwikert’s gotta get a gong on that one too. That girl was sassy. I loved her floor routine (can’t remember the year, but it went to worlds and the commentator talked right over the top of her routine about how floor Xes MUST be entertaining whilst completely ruining any chance she had of entertaining us by drowning out her music and talking about other gymnasts.) But that particular floor X played her bad-girl-got-kicked-out-of-the-gym-again atitude out to a tee.

The Cutesy Kids

Mo Huilan. Forget Jiang Yuyuan. Mo was the cutest Chinese gymnast ever with that funny little typewriter floor routine back in 1995. She was just adorable with her flappy little arms and skippy leaps around the floor.

Lavinia Milosovici. That perfect ten routine back in 1992(?) was the one and only time I ever saw that girl pull off cute. I don’t believe it was perfect because of her cowboy saltos but it was mischievous and light-hearted and fun and pretty damn close to perfect!

Oksana Omelianchik. She was the pinnacle of the Soviet system’s talent for producing bouncy, brilliant little cherubs with the kind of moves that make judges grin as they watch their captivatingly cute floor routines (if you don’t believe me, watch the You tube video). The birdy routine was amazing for both its incredible, innovative tumbling for the time, but also its gorgeous choreography.

All Class

Ludmilla Tourischeva. She was the queen of elegance back then- the originator of the classy floor routine. It was kinda sad to see her get knocked out of the race by the pixie mob. But with them came exciting gymnastics so I can’t complain.

Henrietta Onodi. You could not not watch that girl. She was tiny and young but she had the gravity, presence and majesty of a performer much older than her years. Her dance was gorgeous and I have to say I was pretty sad when she got the silver in Bareclona after Milosovici’s Ten. She was exquisite

Isabelle Severino. She had more stage presence than the entire Romanian team put together. Wait, actually, that isn’t hard these days. I mean the Chinese Team. No, the Italian team. Oh, I don’t know. But boy, she was so good at floor, she almost made it look cool. And you can’t say that very often.

The Innovators.

Camilla Voinea. Who can forget the breakdancing Romanian? That was awesome!

Sveta Bogey. The. Coolest. Floor. Routines. Ever.

Zammo. I mean the girl put a moonwalk in her floor routine. I never laughed harder at a comp than I did at 2005 Worlds. It was already bad enough when she tried to dance. But at least it was different! I gotta give her credit for that.


  1. Good post! I believe the 32 fouettes are used in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Le Corsaire. I've also seen them in Paquita, but fouettes have never been done in Sleeping Beauty. Sorry I'm a ballet dancer who LOVES a la seconde turns (the male version for fouettes where the leg is kept out in second) so I had to comment on that LOL. Anyway, I have a gym blog too: Polished Gymnastics 101 (though I probably won't be updating it much anymore)Keep up the good work!

  2. You forgot Meng Fei for her 1997 FX routine to Strauss music!

  3. Nastia doesn't dance. I'm sorry but they're just poses!

    That photo was of Olessi Dudnik, not Oksana Omelianchik! xD

    I totally agree and love everything you wrote other than that though!

  4. You're right about Nast posing as well- but i give her credit for doing as much arty business as she can in this new code and having the difficulty she has too- meanwhile looking gorgeous. She and Sveta were very similar in that respect of looking good but working the code at the same time.
    And oopsy on the Olesya and Oksana mix-up but it kinda supports my production line theory of Soviet gymnastics!

  5. Pod was a poser as well. No real dance, just a pose here, a pose there. She added some cool stuff in that last routine. I think she was poorly choreographed - I'll bet she was even better than any floor routine we saw from her.

    How about Kathy Johnson?

  6. You're right, and I also give Nastia credit for not being a Gina Gogean.

    And yes the Soviets were certainly the best indeed :)
    Anon, Lilia was kind of posey but she had nice dance in between.... Her most artistic routine was probaby her '94 routine. Check it out! :)

  7. Oksana Omelianchick is the best! I am a little bias though, because I the kind of gymnast who does the cutesy dancing. I've actually used her "bird' routine before!