Monday, June 1, 2009

A Little Goodbye to....

UCLA's 2009 Floor Routines.

As far as I am concerned UCLA have always had the best floor routines and this year was no different. 
They are exciting, graceful, original and never, ever cheesy (yes, I mean you Gym Dogs!) And while I will be excited to see what they come up with for next year, I will definitely be sad to see this lot of routines go!
Anyway, I thought I'd post this video of the UCLA vs Nebraska meet floor highlights for those who haven't seen it because it is a treasure trove of fantastic floor work. This meet was held in March, the last regular meet of the season and it contains six of the best floor routines performed by UCLA this year. In fact, they had an amazing floor rotation, scoring a season high of 49.575.

1. Mizuki Sato- I think she is one of the weakest dancers of the girls. She is still pretty pose-y, a by-product of gymnastics training that Val- ever the ex-dancer- confesses to finding frustrating in her gymnasts.  Mizuki is very, very clean in her dance however, as well as being graceful and having excellent tumbling. This is how she gets away with being a bit weaker in the dance stakes. Her opening turns were awesome too!  Her routine was not the best start, but trust me, the routines get better and better.

2. Vanessa Zamirripa- for a vaulter this girl can sure pull off the dance! For the first thirty seconds of this routine, I am never fully convinced, then it all seems to fall into place. She plays a combination of saucy and sweet well and is excellent at playing to the judges and the audience. I adore the bit where she is on one leg, with the other up behind her, and does the three steps with her hands in time to the piano notes. So cool! Her leaps need more amplitude though. 
I also like that the routine is performed kind of slowly too, even though the music itself is not that slow. So many NCAA floor routines are choreographed to be so speedy these days that they nearly border on frenetic. It's as if they think no one will notice the flaws if the gymnast grins her head off and moves as fast through the dance as she possibly can!

3. Arianna Berlin- this was our little Break Dancing Queen's last ever floor routine as a senior for UCLA and Bam!- she pulled off a gorgeous routine with her usual brand of cool. Sometimes I think the transitions from gymnastics skill to the breakdance can be a little awkward within the routine but most of it still looks awesome. I like her little salsa/hiphop freak out in the middle too. AND I would really, really love to see her and Cassidy McComb in a moonwalk-off!

4. Aisha Gerber- I like this routine, especially the starting pose and the opening series of moves when she is lying down. According to Aisha, she can't see her life existing without dance being in it somewhere and was terribly excited when she first learned of Val's dance repututation and saw videos of old UCLA routines. I love Aisha's tumbling too (pity she stepped out- I love how the line judge seemed to be half asleep and lifted the wrong end of the flag!!) but her leap series was bloody awful.

5. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs- I really, really love this routine. The music is my favorite of this years bunch and i think Val did a great job in bringing out the dancer in Elyse, while still retaining her signature stylings like the illusion and her spin/jump sequence. I particularly love the bit where she is sitting on the ground with her legs out and does that dramatic lean over her knee as she raises the knee to the chest. Elyse's first leap nearly rivalled Gerber's for badness though, but it was terrific to see her land her Arabian so well. Its been a bit sketchy this year. 
(Also, is it just me, or is EH-H's music really similar to Mohini Bhardwaj's senior floor routine that won the national title?)

6. Brittani McCullough- I adore this routine. The choreography was a collaborative effort between Brittani and Val. There is something really electric and magnetic about the way Brittani dances. I think i heard a commentator say that it is based on exactly the kind of dancing Brittani used to do at church when she was a kid. Whatever, it works a charm. It's a pity she was having some trouble getting her tumbling back from her achilles injury, because the dance is brilliant, original and so cool.  Can't wait to see her when she is back in fighting form next year!

So, if you haven't taken any notice of UCLA's floor work this year, please sit back and take it in;


  1. one of my favorites that wasn't included in this line-up was Niki Tom

    and also Talia Kushynski

  2. God! they are great!Brilliant choreaography! The only thing I knew about UCLA was Kate Richardson's awsome routine from the Olympics. Need to pay more attention to NCAA because some thing good is happening there. Thanks Couch gymnast to give me another obssesion!

    Yours truly,

    Your biggest fan