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Guide to Rhythmic Gymnastics

History of Rhythmic Gymnastics

I.G. Noverre, Francois Delsart and R. Bode were the founder fathers of rhythmic gymnastics. Through different times in history between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they formulated the 'dance to express oneself' movement. The idea was further channelized by Peter Henry Ling in the 19th-century, in Sweden. The movement grew to promote aesthetic gymnastics, to express emotion through manipulated body movements. Catharine Beecher developed a program in 1837, in Ohio, United States, wherein women were encouraged to display basic calisthenics and progress linearly. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Switzerland's Emil Dalcroze developed what he called eurhythmics. This physical training was mainly used by dancers and musicians as a release of suppressed energy along with common dance moves.

George Demeny of France developed a program that promoted grace, muscular flexibility and posture through gymnastics. Finally, in 1900, all the styles were integrated and synchronized by the school of rhythmic gymnastics, Sweden. Henrich Medau promoted the synchronized form of modern gymnastics and the use of apparatus in 1929, and founded The Medau School in Berlin. However, rhythmic gymnastics as a part of major competitions was developed and promoted in the Soviet Union, only in the 1940s. The first World Championships were held in Hungary, in 1963 and subsequently, in 1967 in Denmark. Rhythmic gymnastics became a part of the Olympics in 1984. Lori Fung from Canada earned the first rhythmic gymnastics Olympic gold medal that year. Group displays and competitions were introduced in the 1996 Summer Olympics, in Georgia.

Rhythmic gymnastics involves participation from both the genders. Athletes are expected to outdo one another in physical ability, synchronized skill, hand and body co-ordination, eye contact and coordination, strength, agility, power and display a keen ear for music. The routines have come a long way since the inception, to include skill in the martial arts. Solo and team performances are very popular. The competitions mainly include an 'execution' and 'difficulty' score. Bent legs, poor finesse and falls go against the score. Stick rhythmic gymnastics have been introduced in Japan, with the aim of improving agility and physical strength. Over the years, rhythmic gymnastics has given athletes a number of physical, emotional and developmental benefits. The professionals display improved confidence and skill level, a sense of pride, instant flexibility in routine modifications and well choreographed moves and techniques.

Rhythmic gymnastics have come a long way in approach and application. The training and assessment now involves individual accomplishments with regards to course of action and mastering techniques. The sense of reward by displaying exactly what you feel via dance and acrobatic moves has made rhythmic gymnastics a highly rewarding sport.

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