Newspaper article International New York Times

Gymnast Adds Spice to Her Floor Routine with Hip-Hop Moves

Newspaper article International New York Times

Gymnast Adds Spice to Her Floor Routine with Hip-Hop Moves

Article excerpt

Sophina DeJesus may have just upset the floor exercise paradigm. A Facebook video of her routine has been shared hundreds of thousands of times.

The floor exercise in gymnastics is all about the tumbling, right? Sure, in between the runs the gymnast shows off her balance or does balletlike moves, but that's just a moment for athletes and fans to catch their breath.

Sophina DeJesus of the U.C.L.A. gymnastics team may have upset the floor exercise paradigm over the weekend, however. Her tumbling runs were spot on, but the moments in between are the main reason a Facebook video of her routine has been shared more than 400,000 times.

DeJesus set aside those normally staid moments in between the tumbling to whip, nae nae, hit the quan and perform other hip-hop dance steps.

The unexpected moves, combined with the enthusiastic reaction from fans and DeJesus's teammates on Saturday, made the video a must- watch for hundreds of thousands and brought an outpouring of positive comments on social media.

"I love dancing," DeJesus said of her decision to try the unorthodox routine. "I wanted to end my senior year with a bang."

She added: "My sister Savannah is an awesome dancer. She helped me with the choreo and made it more fun."

The floor exercise is not even DeJesus's best event; she was an all-American on bars, and she has made only limited floor appearances over her U.C.L.A. career. Saturday's performance, which was widely shared on social media, was her first floor exercise of the season.

It was a good day in general for the U.C.L.A. team, currently ranked in the top 10 in N.C.A.A. Division I, as it beat its Pacific- 12 rival, No.7 Utah, by only 0.025 of a point.

Unsurprisingly, DeJesus, a 21-year-old sociology major from Temecula, Calif., has a dance and acting background. At 12, she performed on the TV show "Hip Hop Harry." "He was like Barney, but a hip-hop bear," DeJesus said. "We'd teach kids about the importance of drinking water, and stuff like that. …

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