Black gymnast goes viral after ‘fierce’ performance routine with anti-racist message

Isobel van Hagen
Thursday 28 January 2021 13:35
Showbiz
(Getty Images)

Millions of people could not get enough of a rising gymnastic star’s routine, and not only because of her ability to fly through the air.

Nia Dennis, a senior at UCLA, performed a routine celebrating “Black excellence” while incorporating artists like Kendrick Lamar, Tupac Shakur, Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, Soulja Boy and Megan Thee Stallion.

Viewed over 10 million times, she said the floor routine was inspired Black Lives Matter protests. "I had to... for the culture," the 21-year-old wrote on Instagram.

The routine wowed the judges and earned praise from celebrities across the spectrum.

UCLA tweeted out the routine with the hashtag #blackexcellence and Missy Elliott voiced her approval in a comment: “snappin”.

Olympic champion Simone Biles, who has been labelled the best gymnast on the planet, also tweeted her approval: “okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl this was so fun to watch! keep killing it!”

Even former First Lady Michelle Obama paid attention: "Now that's what I call fierce! You're a star."

Dennis told The Lily in an interview that she wanted the routine to "be a celebration of everything [Black people] can do, everything we can overcome".

"The subject of Black Lives Matter is so heavy. It is difficult for people to talk about – and sometimes you have to meet people where they're at, with a celebration," she said of the performance.

She also wants to push beyond the boundaries of usual “cookie cutter” gymnastics in order to show her personality through dance and music.

This comes after athletes across the world took the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement last year, after George Floyd was killed by a white police officer.

The judges awarded Dennis a score of 9.95 out of 10 for the performance, helping her team clinch a victory against Arizona State.

This was not even the first time Dennis has gone viral for her unique gymnastics routines. Last year, she made headlines for a routine set to a medley of Beyonce songs.

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