Nia Dennis wins plaudits for stunning 'black excellence' gymnastics routine

US gymnast Nia Dennis’s latest floor routine, which she dedicated to black culture, has won praise from fans such as Missy Elliott and Simone Biles after it attracted millions of views on social media over the weekend.

Dennis, a senior at UCLA, started her routine with Kendrick Lamar, and the rest of the performance incorporated artists such as Beyonce, Tupac Shakur, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy and Megan Thee Stallion. UCLA tweeted out the routine with the hashtag #blackexcellence and Elliott gave her one-word opinion on Twitter: “snappin”.

Biles, the best gymnast on the planet, tweeted her approval: “okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl this was so fun to watch! keep killing it!” wrote the four-time Olympic champion.

Dennis said the routine was a celebration as well as a tribute to Los Angeles, where UCLA is based.

“This routine definitely reflects everything that I am today as a woman,” Dennis told the Los Angeles Daily News, “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.”

Dennis follows in the footsteps of her former UCLA teammate Katelyn Ohashi, whose floor routine last year pulled in tens of millions of hits. Like Dennis’s routine, Ohashi performed to a mash-up of different artists such as Ike & Tina Turner and Earth, Wind & Fire along with the Jackson 5 and Michael and Janet Jackson.

Dennis is no stranger to the spotlight either. Last year, she won praise for a routine based around Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and later appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Dennis’s performance proved crucial to her team: the judges awarded her 9.95, clinching UCLA a 196.150-195.950 victory over Arizona State.


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