22 Years Later, the Bulgarian Style Lives and Evolves

Over the decades, rhythmic gymnastic has evolved into a much more physically demanding sport, which is also a lot more exciting to watch. The athletes display both flexibility and strength, more complex routines, new and original music choices, including music with voice and words, very elaborate leotards and make up, even new hairstyles to bring more excitement into the sport.

What has remained the same is the value of strong choreography, original elements and risky, spectacular routines.

In the 80s, the gymnastics of the Bulgarian Dilyana Georgieva was innovative and ground-breaking. She was the first athlete to show certain elements that had not been performed in competition. She was also known for her deeply personal and passionate interpretation of the music, great speed and very clean performance, even of the smallest movements. As many in the Bulgarian school, her technique with the apparatus, especially with ball and clubs,  was way ahead of her time. While the gymnasts in the 1990s and later took gymnastics to an even higher level, some of Dilyana's routines remain unforgettable as stepping stones to new levels in the sport.

So, the two-time world champion Dilyana Georgieva performed this absolute piece of art back in 1985. Notice the speed of the two forward rolls, the high throws, and how the gymnast handles the ball so that it literally never stops moving:

In 2017, set against the same music choice, a modern routine with great risk and a lot of drama takes up the carpet. This time it is performed by Bulgaria's best gymnast currently, Neviana Vladinova:

Same music, different difficulty and different audiences, the same deep passion. And most importantly, the same universal language of sports as a form of art.

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