Between Art and Sport
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Rhythmic Gymnastics is an aesthetic discipline falling midway between art and sport. It is practiced exclusively by women (although in Japan and some other countries, men also practice the sport) and performed to music while using small hand apparatus – rope, hoop, ball, clubs and/or ribbon. The spectacular appeal of Rhythmic Gymnastics with its grace, harmony and beauty is enormous.
At the world class level the difficulty of body movements performed in combination with skillful handling of the apparatus is fascinating. However, learning and developing such skills require as much hard work as in Artistic Gymnastics or any form of dance.
In order to get to World class level, a rhythmic gymnast needs natural talent, the ability to handle hard training which will further develop strength, flexibility, jumping abilities, spatial orientation, stamina and handling skills with the apparatus.
Finally, Rhythmic Gymnastics is about developing personal style and the ability to get one’s own artistic message and charisma across to the audience.
All routines are performed to music, of one or more instruments. The hand apparatus used in Rhythmic Gymnastics are: Rope, Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbon.
During the exercise, the apparatus must be in constant motion : movements with great variety of shape, amplitude, direction, plane and speed should be performed. The apparatus must be handled with as much variety as possible. It may not be used as decoration; the relationship between gymnast and apparatus must be constant.
Composing a routine is based on including in it some specific fundamental groups of body movements and also technical groups in apparatus usage.
The first Olympic Games to feature Rhythmic Gymnastics as a discipline of its own were in 1984 in Los Angeles, USA. In 1996 in Atlanta, the first Group routines were contested.