In women’s gymnastics, the floor routine shows the best example of integrating dance with gymnastic or acrobatic elements. Yet a sense of rhythm is a critical factor in the execution of skills on all apparatus.
Code of Points
The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) code of points is the defining document of both dance and acrobatic elements which will receive a score when performed in a routine. A score for the level of difficulty of each skill is allotted, then another score is allocated by the judges for the quality of execution displayed in the successful completion of each skill.
Individual dance elements of jumps, hops, leaps and turns have strict technical requirements for each skill to be awarded full points for difficulty. Joining several dance moves together is also required, but simply performing each dance skill is not enough.
There should also be a cohesion and continuity to turn steps into dance. This gives a visually pleasing flow to a routine and allows bonus points to be awarded by the judges.
Traditionally, gymnastics coaches have concentrated on developing acrobatic skills in young gymnasts. The technical requirements for each of these skills is also listed in the FIG Code of Points.
Yet the emphasis many Australian gymnastics coaches place in teaching each skill is often to encourage the gymnast to ‘just do it’. The execution of the skill can be tidied up later. Or can it?
Every gymnast, like every dancer, has individual strengths and weaknesses. Mandatory routines are in place to assess that all gymnasts in a specific level have the basic skills required for that level.
Optional routines allow each gymnast to showcase the things they do best. Choreography for a gymnastics routine should create a blend of acrobatic and dance movements into a seamless presentation, a routine designed for the individual gymnast. The music should be at a tempo in which the gymnast feels comfortable doing the required movements.
Integrating Dance with Gymnastics Successfully
Choreography is much more than the total of moves strung together. A good choreographer will create a routine integrating dance and acrobatic elements. This is designed to maximize the opportunity for a gymnast to get a good score for execution. The score which can make the difference between winning, or not.