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UCLA gymnast flips her way to viral fame with floor routine that honored ‘black excellence’

A gymnast at the University of California, Los Angeles, has gone viral for her incredible floor routine celebrating black culture after tumbling and dancing to a mashup of hits from black artists. 

Nia Dennis, 21, was competing against Arizona State on Saturday when she wowed the judges with her playful, yet impressive floor routine featuring songs by Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Tupac, and Megan Thee Stallion.  

‘This routine definitely reflects everything that I am today as a woman and, of course, I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture,’ Dennis told the Los Angeles Daily News. 

Winning fans: UCLA Gymnast Nia Dennis, 21, has gone viral for her incredible floor routine celebrating black culture 

Fun: Dennis wowed the judges with her playful, yet impressive floor routine featuring songs by Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Tupac, and Megan Thee Stallion

Fun: Dennis wowed the judges with her playful, yet impressive floor routine featuring songs by Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Tupac, and Megan Thee Stallion

Fun: Dennis wowed the judges with her playful, yet impressive floor routine featuring songs by Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Tupac, and Megan Thee Stallion

‘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.’

The accomplished gymnast scored a 9.950 on floor exercise for her near-perfect performance, helping UCLA defeat Arizona State in the matchup.  

When she wasn’t jumping or flipping in the air during her complex tumbling passes, she had the crowd going wild with her dance moves. 

Dennis looked like she was having a blast performing the powerful routine, and UCLA Gymnastics proudly took to Twitter to share a video of it.

Playful routine: When she wasn't jumping or flipping in the air during her complex tumbling passes, she had the crowd going wild with her dance moves

Playful routine: When she wasn’t jumping or flipping in the air during her complex tumbling passes, she had the crowd going wild with her dance moves

Success: The accomplished gymnast scored a 9.950 on floor exercise for her near-perfect performance, helping UCLA defeat Arizona State in the matchup

Success: The accomplished gymnast scored a 9.950 on floor exercise for her near-perfect performance, helping UCLA defeat Arizona State in the matchup

Success: The accomplished gymnast scored a 9.950 on floor exercise for her near-perfect performance, helping UCLA defeat Arizona State in the matchup

Going viral: The video of Dennis's performance has been viewed more than 7.7 million times and even caught the attention of rapper Missy Elliot

Going viral: The video of Dennis’s performance has been viewed more than 7.7 million times and even caught the attention of rapper Missy Elliot

Impressed: Olympic gymnast Simone Biles tweeted that Dennis's performance was 'so fun to watch' and told her to 'keep killing it'

Impressed: Olympic gymnast Simone Biles tweeted that Dennis’s performance was ‘so fun to watch’ and told her to ‘keep killing it’

Work it: Dennis also received praise from Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez

Work it: Dennis also received praise from Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez

‘This is what #blackexcellence looks like. @DennisNia does it again!’ they wrote. 

In just one day, the video of Dennis’s performance has been viewed more than 7.7 million times and even caught the attention of rapper Missy Elliot. 

At the beginning of the routine, Dennis danced to the opening of Elliott’s hit ‘Pass that Dutch,’ and the rapper tweeted that the routine was ‘snappin.’ 

Dennis also received praise from Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez, who were both impressed by the performance.   

Amazing: Dennis's widely-celebrated performance comes nearly a year after she went viral for her Beyoncé-inspired floor routine last March

Amazing: Dennis’s widely-celebrated performance comes nearly a year after she went viral for her Beyoncé-inspired floor routine last March

Meaning: Dennis said her latest routine 'reflects everything' that she is as a woman as well as her culture

Meaning: Dennis said her latest routine 'reflects everything' that she is as a woman as well as her culture

Meaning: Dennis said her latest routine ‘reflects everything’ that she is as a woman as well as her culture 

Making fans: Dennis is one of the brightest stars on the UCLA Gymnastics team and has been an online sensation for a few years now

Making fans: Dennis is one of the brightest stars on the UCLA Gymnastics team and has been an online sensation for a few years now

‘Okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl. This was so fun to watch! Keep killing it!’ Biles tweeted, while Hernandez commented: ‘YOU BETTER WORK SISSS.’

Dennis’s widely-celebrated performance comes nearly a year after she went viral for her Beyoncé-inspired floor routine last March, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic led to nationwide lockdowns.

The then-college junior performed to a medley of orchestral versions of Queen Bey’s songs, including ‘Crazy in Love,’ ‘Ego,’ and Destiny Child’s ‘Lose My Breath.’

Dennis has been an online sensation for a few years now. As part of one of her 2018 routines, she famously spelled her name in the air with her finger — a cheeky move that set her apart from the rest.


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