• Ethne Tierney

Group routines with the most character

In the last few years, we have seen a lot of changes and advancements within the RG group atmosphere. We have seen more freedom and originality in compositions, quirky dance steps, and some groups have really broken the mould when it comes to what a group routine should look like.

Group competitions have certainly changed, and that's why we bring you our five favourite routines in regards to personality and character ordered from most recent to oldest. Some are incredibly modern and fresh, whereas others are more traditional with a personal flair that makes them interesting.

The execution or difficulty of these routines have been taken into account - it can't look that good if the elements performed are messy!-, but the main focus of the groups listed are their composition, musicality and overall character? Did the gymnast express the mood of the music? Were they really feeling it? Were they acting as a team? Were they fun to watch?

Hopefully, this will make you reflect on rhythmic gymnastics as an art as well as a sport, and valuing routines not only as a sum of a number. Let us know what group routines you like in the comments!

1. Ukraine, 5 Balls, Baku 2019

When this routine first appeared it was very well received. We can see how the Ukrainian style is really present in every element. Modern, dynamic and a little edgy, the Ukrainian girls made us really enjoy it during the 37th Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The modern music makes it very contemporary but most importantly, the tempo and rhythm make all the difficulties and fast collaborations work well in the composition. Sometimes seeing the apparatus fly across the mat without a break and the gymnasts running behind it can look awful (even if the difficulty score is high!), but the composition of these girls make it work.

The multi-directional throw of the three balls during a body wave at min 1.32 it works well and shows the fluidity of the exercise.

2. Italy, 5 Hoops , Sofia 2018

A routine is undeniably good when the performers display opposite qualities at the same time, and the Italian girls "Le Farfalle" are the living proof of it. The strength and intensity contrast with the gracefulness and delicacy in every single element they perform. The collaborations and composition are absolutely stunning.

The music, from the finale of Swan Lake, is not an innovation in RG. But seeing a complex routine with unique elements and original collaboration that is executed with this amount of artistry and dynamism is quite rare. The group looks just like the flock of swans at the end of swan lake dancing around main characters, but with a personality and intense gracefulness never seen before. Bravissime!

3. Spain, 6 Clubs 2 Hoops, Guadalajara 2016

The Spanish groups are elegant and passionate. They are smart about their style and choreography playing it safe with Spanish music and famous "Flamenco" dance steps. It obviously suits them and it gives them a unique character that makes them stand out.

As we can see in the video, the crowd is supportive and enthusiastic. No wonder the gymnasts are full of confidence and energy. One of the clubs dropped, which made the Belarussian girls get the gold instead of them, but that doesn't make their exercise any less beautiful.

The kick with the foot to throw the hoop back at 1.45 is one of the examples of the spectacular composition that created the dramatic mood, we loved it!

4. Azerbaijan (Juniors), 5 balls, Pesaro 2015

It's impossible not to smile watching these girls. From the more superficial aspects like the -very appropriate- Michael Jackson style unitards to the creative throws and collaborations, this routine has it all. Incredibly enjoyable and theatrical, the young Azerbaijanis put on a show not only for the judges but for the audience too.

The roll on the floor where the girls do a reversed body wave to skip it is really interesting. The Michael Jackson style dance steps are a very clear theme.

Being juniors the execution is naturally not perfect yet, but the back flexibility they still have adds even more charm. This is why watching juniors can be so exciting, while they don't have the perfect execution of a more mature gymnast, they offer things seniors can't too!

5. Belarus, 5 Balls, London 2012

Dramatic, intense and very well synchronized is how we could describe the Belarus 2012 group composed by Maryna Hancharova, Anastasiya Ivankova, Nataliya Leshchyk, Yana Lukavets, Aliaksandra Narkevich and Kseniya Sankovich.

The classical music always adds some elegance to a routine, and making it fast-paced makes it perfect to express the dramatism and also handles a high quantity of fast difficulties while keeping the exercise pleasant. So " Concerto in F minor Op. 8 No. 4, RV 297 L'INVERNO - I. Allegro non molto" was a quite a good option.

Belarus stays on the more traditional side for its routines, but here we see how they manage to distinguish themselves from the rest. They need no eccentric compositions to make their exercises outstandingly beautiful and expressive. Belarussian girls have always felt the music in their routines like no other and that is a precious ability very unique to them.

In this routine we see more raw emotion and power than in other routines, and this is why we like it.


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