Heavily influenced by ballet and modern dance, Rhythmic Gymnastics is the juncture of sport and art. Performing routines with music, either as individuals or in groups, rhythmic gymnasts amaze audiences with their astonishing skill as they execute enormously difficult maneuvers with hand-held apparatus: Hoop, Ball, Clubs, Ribbon and Rope.
Flexibility and musical interpretation are important elements in a Rhythmic exercise. However, it is the amount of risk a gymnast takes, often throwing the apparatus several meters into the air and losing sight of it while performing stunning leaps, turns or acrobatic maneuvers before regrasping it - often in impossible-seeming catches - that sets the routines apart.
Though group routines with apparatus were performed at the early modern Olympic Games, Rhythmic Gymnastics as a separate discipline debuted at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Group event was added to the programme at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of the four-year world Gymnastics calendar. Rhythmic Gymnastics (Individual All-around) is also part of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, held quadrennially since 2010. The first two YOG editions also featured a Rhythmic Group event, which was dropped from the programme in 2018.
World championships are held annually except in Olympic years and are open to senior competitors (16 and over). The first world championships saw just 28 competitors from 10 nations, but today’s world championships are now a truly global event and are the most prestigious event in the sport alongside the Olympic Games.
Organised by the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, the first Junior World Championships are slated for 2019 and will be held as a trial event with possible permanent inclusion on the FIG calendar.
Following the Olympics, World Championships and continental events, the FIG World Cup competitions are the most popular events on the international calendar. The World Cup series includes Individual All-around events, apparatus finals and Group events. A point system determines a world ranking and overall series champion. The 2020 World Cup series for the first time will be part of the Olympic qualification contest for individual Rhythmic gymnasts.
World Challenge Cup competitions are major FIG events that attract broad participation. They are aimed at supporting the affiliated federations in developing Gymnastics worldwide through the organisation of high-standard FIG international events. At each World Challenge Cup competition, gymnasts have the opportunity to win prize money and points that count toward the World Challenge Cup Ranking List.
As individual titles are not included in Rhythmic Gymnastics at the Olympic Games, the four events (currently Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbon) are part of the programme at The World Games, a quadrennial multi-event games for sports not in the Olympics.