The girls performed two floor routines: one hoop and one rope routine to classical and pop music. Neha Vangapati, one of the young girls at the gymnastics center said,
“I love it,” said Neha Vangapati. “My parents get mad with me because I’m always practicing gymnastics in the mirror rather than doing my homework. I practice twice a week, and after doing the sport for a while I’ve become so much better at it.
“Eventually, I want to go to the Olympics,” she said.
The girls of Forest Hills Rhythmic Gymnastics practice in the ballroom on the lower level of the Forest Hills Jewish Center at 106-06 Queens Boulevard, trained by owners Mila Spivak and her son Alex.
“I teach girls who are tall and short, chubby and slim, flexible and inflexible,” said Mila. “Everyone has the opportunity to do rhythmic gymnastics, all is takes is hard work and a lot of patience.”
In the early 20th century, Isadora Duncan rebelled against the established order of classical ballet with new dance moves that would combine both art and sport to become rhythmic gymnastics.
The first world championship for rhythmic gymnastics was held in Budapest in 1963. Due to its rather late appearance in the Olympic games in 1984, though, rhythmic gymnastics is a bit underrepresented and unfamiliar to the general public.
However, its passionate and intense demonstration continues to captivate audiences that continue to grow in size and eagerness.
The girls of Forest Hills Rhythmic Gymnastics practice around 25 hours a week with international-level and professional rhythmic gymnasts, as well as with dancers and cheerleaders.
“We move across countries with our music,” explained Mila. “Each musical piece allows us to dance the rhythm of a different culture.”