The discipline of rhythmic gymnastics began in the late 19th century. Rhythmic gymnastics grew out of the ideas of I. G. Noverre , Francois Delsarte, and R. Bode. Delsarte and Bode believed in movement expression. This also includes using the body as a form of expression. Forms of the discipline of rhythmic gymnastics also trace to ancient Egypt and then to early classical ballet.
Emile-Jacques Dalcroze, a Swiss composer, developed what he called Eurhythmics in the 1880s. Eurhythmics is dance and movement to music. Meanwhile George Demeny was developing his own form of rhythmic gymnastics in France. The Swedish School of Rhythmic Gymnastics created another version of the sport around 1900. Finally a competitive structure formed around the end of the World War II.
Rhythmic gymnastics started as a competitive discipline in the former Soviet Union. As a result, it remains popular in former Soviet states and throughout Eastern Europe. The International Gymnastics Federation recognized rhythmic gymnastics as a new discipline in 1961. The first World Individual Championships took place in 1963 in Hungary. It was a small event, with just 10 European countries taking part.
Rhythmic gymnastics is a combination of ballet and creative movements performed to music. Gymnasts also work with ribbons, balls, hoops, ropes and clubs. They perform in a choreographed dance-and-tumble routine. Gymnasts perform jumps, tosses, leaps and other moves with different types of apparatus. So grace, flexibility, balance, coordination and dance ability are what determines the gymnasts score.
In 1956, hand-held exercises appeared in the Artistic Event in the Olympics. Gymnasts performed in a group exercise with ropes. Yet, hand-held apparatuses soon disappeared from the artistic gymnastics program. The Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 featured individual rhythmic gymnastics as its own event. The 1996 Atlanta Games added team competition. Rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic level includes only female athletes. Gymnasts may compete once they are 16 years old.