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Creating unique floor routines

Gymnasts share how they build intriguing choreography

Paige Anderson, Staff Reporter
Originally published March 7, 2019

Kate IngeSenior and team captain Celyn Stermer transitions between moves during her floor routine.

Kate Inge

Senior and team captain Celyn Stermer transitions between moves during her floor routine.

Gymnastics is a precise, graceful sport that requires an exhausting amount of strength and hours of practice to reach perfection. Floor routines, in particular, demand intriguing and unique moves that leave the audience and judges in awe.

Practices for these student athletes take place four days a week, located at school or in the gymnasium at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). The team starts out stretching as a group then splits up into smaller groups to focus and work on each event, floor routines being one of them.

Each gymnast is responsible for their own routine. Many gymnasts pay old coaches from SPU or a professional choreographer to create a routine for them.

After they have a routine they are free to edit it to fit their personality. Gymnasts can get inspiration from watching videos of other routines, former Ballard gymnasts, teammates and the student managers Zoe Seeman and Hannah Loucks.

Junior Eliza Volk, a captain of the team, has been competing in gymnastics since she was eight years old.

Volk joined the team freshman year and expressed that the hardest part of any routine is trying to come up with something that’s unique and not like everyone else’s. The first step to accomplish this concept is to select the right song and original choreography.

“Pick music that you haven’t heard a million times from other people,” Volk said. “Come up with new dance moves that aren’t just the same things over and over again.”

Senior captain Celyn Stermer has been competing in gymnastics since she was ten and joined the team her sophomore year.

“Make sure you can fit in the right amount of skills along with having a clean dance and something that can match your personality,”  Stermer said.

Each routine must meet a certain amount of requirements. These skills consists of two tumbling passes, jumps, turns, leaps and rhythmic dancing that goes with the music.

Junior Tessa Kitchel who has been on the team all three years started gymnastics at a club through SPU. Kitchel competed for club six years before she was in high school.

Since Kitchel suffered an injury this season she wasn’t able to participate in any practices or meets. Instead, she has helped choreograph numerous routines for her teammates.

When it comes to creating a routine, whether her teammate doesn’t like a certain part or they want to work around a certain skill, she focuses on incorporating the gymnast’s strengths and their personality.

“If someone is more bubbly and really high energy, then you’re going to want to match the routine to that,” Kitchel said. “Maybe it’s a more faster pace and cutesy.”

Along with all the other gymnasts, Kitchel too struggles with ensuring that each routine is unique and fun for the crowd.

“It’s hard to think about original things to come up with that would look cool,” Kitchel said. “That’s why it helps to have a teammate that you can bounce ideas off of.”

Sophomore Clare Mullins has the same outlook on floor routines as Kitchel: it has to stand out and be personal.

“Floor is a lot of individuality and you get to pick you own music and everything,” Mullins said. “There’s just certain requirements you need to meet.”

It takes a lot of strength, time and creativity to come up with a routine that not only contains unique choreography, but is also something that reflects who the gymnast is off the mat.

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Creating unique floor routines