'Black excellence': Gymnastics world erupts over 'insane' routine

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Nia Dennis, pictured here in action for UCLA gymnastics.
Nia Dennis' new routine has set the internet alight. Image: UCLA

Nia Dennis is the new queen of the gymnastics world after her ‘Black Excellence’ routine went viral this week.

Following in the footsteps of former teammate Katelyn Ohashi, the UCLA gymnast continues to dazzle celebrities and fans with her epic routines.

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Not only did UCLA open their college season in victorious fashion over the weekend, they also gained international attention for Dennis’ magnificent floor routine.

Dennis, 21, made headlines last season for her floor routine inspired by Beyonce.

But she’s upped the ante in 2021 with a routine dedicated to Black culture.

The UCLA Gymnastics Twitter account sent it out with: “This is what #blackexcellence looks like.”

And it really is.

Dennis opened the performance with Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA.” The song examines Blackness and how it’s viewed by different groups of people.

There’s also music by Beyonce, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Megan Thee Stallion and Tupac Shakur’s “California Love.”

She also paid tribute to her father, who was involved in Greek Life. The entire routine was about who Dennis is today, she told the Los Angeles Daily News.

“This routine definitely reflects everything that I am today as a woman,” she said.

“And of course I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture.

“I wanted to have a dance party because that’s my personality and of course I had to shout out LA because we out here, UCLA.”

Nia Dennis, pictured here during UCLA Gymnastics' 'Meet the Bruins' event in 2019.
Nia Dennis performs during UCLA Gymnastics' 'Meet the Bruins' intra squad event in 2019. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Celebs and fans react to Nia Dennis routine

A number of celebs and fellow gymnasts took notice of Dennis’ latest routine, including Olympic champion Simone Biles.

“Okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl,” Biles wrote, retweeting UCLA's post.

“This was so fun to watch! Keep killing it!”

Missy Elliott simply commented “snappin”, while ESPN host Katie Nolan commented: “Gymnastics looks so much more fun now than it did when I was a kid.

“I went into rhythmic gymnastics because I didn’t feel like artistic gymnastics let you DANCE enough.

“And the establishment (then, at least) wanted to keep it that way. So this? Absolutely rules.”

Dennis, ranked 18th in America on floor at the end of 2020, first “broke the internet” last gymnastics season with her floor routine to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”.

That came a year after former teammate Ohashi broke onto the national stage with her flawless perfect 10.0 floor routine.

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