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UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis slays the floor with "Black Excellence" routine

This weekend, UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis snatched a season-opening win of 9.95 out of 10 with her floor routine, "Black Excellence," catapulting her team to victory against Arizona State. Watch here: 

When interviewed by the Los Angeles Daily News, Dennis reveals: "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." In one part of her routine inspired by Black Lives Matter protests, Dennis kneels with her fist in the air. In an interview with The Lily, she reveals that those protests were the foundation behind her routine, and that "[Black Lives Matter] It is difficult for people to talk about—and sometimes you have to meet people where they’re at, with a celebration."

Dennis turns her routine's soundtrack, aptly named "Black Excellence," into a dance party with a two-minute tribute to Black culture, including music snippets of hip-hop hits from Black artists like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion. The volunteer assistant coach of the Bruins, BJ Das, is the professional dancer and choreographer responsible for both Dennis's popular Beyoncé-inspired routine last year and this year's flawless program—which BTW, has gone viral with over 10 million views.

Not only did it absolutely *wow* the judges and viewers, but the routine also earned Dennis praise from several celebs. Missy Elliott herself replied to Dennis's video with the comment, “snappin 🔥,” while Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama wrote, "Now that's what I call fierce! You're a star." Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles retweeted Dennis's routine with the caption, “okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl 🔥 this was so fun to watch! keep killing it!”

And obviously, we can't help but agree. Nia Dennis is an absolute icon and star, and we *can't* wait to see what she'll do next.

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by Serena Sherwood and Sophia Zhang | 1/29/2021