Brooklyn Moors dramatically poses on floor.

CGN Roundtable: Theme Routines

One of the most exciting parts of the college gymnastics season is seeing all of the new floor routines! It’s especially exciting when gymnasts and coaches get creative and come up with a themed routine. We’re talking about some of our favorite themed routines from previous seasons and what we’d love to see in the future. 

What’s your all-time favorite theme that’s been used for a college gymnastics routine in the past?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: I adore Shannon Evans’ Super Mario Bros. routine from 2019. It has the same chokehold on me now as it did then! It’s just so catchy, and she performs the heck out of it.


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: This might be recency bias talking, but I was really captivated by Brooklyn Moors Euphoria routine this year. It was a different take on the theme routine: Instead of being over the top and cheesy (which is still fun), it was really intense and dramatic, more so than the usual “creepy” routine, which is true to the show’s premise and vibe. Her amazing dance matched the show’s epic soundtrack perfectly. 

Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: Am I allowed to pick two if they’re from the same gymnast? I have a hard time picking between Claire Gagliardi’s “Pac-Man” routine from 2021, and soundtrack theme from 2022. She put on a masterclass in maintaining character throughout her routines. 

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: The creepy doll-themed routine from Gracie Day in 2020 for Auburn was amazing. She would always perform it so well and was truly committed to the character. 


Julianna: I have so many theme routines from the past that I really do love, so this is rough. My answer though would have to come from this past year, and while not really a ‘theme’ routine, my favorite would have to be Kentucky’s Hailey Davis’ rock n’ roll floor from this past year that she did in honor of her dad. I really loved watching her perform this and enjoyed it even more knowing the connection she had to it.  

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I really liked Jordan MatthewsNapoleon Dynamite floor routine in 2021. She really embodied her character and I had a smile on my face every time I watched it. 

Which team or gymnast do you think excels the most at creating theme routines?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: UCLA and BYU immediately come to mind! Some of the choreography can be hit or miss, but there’s a reason they go viral every single year. They toe the line well between catchy and corny, and I’m always surprised at what they can incorporate into a floor routine.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I have to say BYU as well. It’s quality over quantity for me; UCLA and Oklahoma do a decent amount of themed routines, but they can sometimes feel loosely connected to what the theme is purported to be. As zany as BYU’s routines can be (Evans’ and Rebekah Ripley’s Barbie Girl, to name a few), they’re always eye-popping and on the nose. 

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: UCLA is the first to come to mind. There have been so many unique routines over the years, and there is always at least one that holds my attention. 


Julianna: UCLA for me comes to mind first. I could be wrong, but I feel like they were the first team to really ‘pioneer’ these types of themed floor routines, and each year, UCLA’s floor rotation is always one of my favorites to watch. 


Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: Definitely UCLA. They create themes for routines that I never would’ve even thought of before watching them. The creativity in the story and the choreography brings a whole new dimension to the Bruins floor lineup. 


Looking forward, choose a gymnast you want to do a theme routine, then describe the theme.

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: Oh, 100% Mia Townes. Her dance is so captivating and you can tell that everyone in the arena is eating it up. I loved her hip-hop mashup last year and would love another musical-erathemed one. I think she could kill an ‘80s-popthemed one, as long as she includes Love Shack by the B-52s.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I touched recently on how I’m excited to see Luisa Blanco compete for Colombia. She’s used some Bad Bunny and other reggaeton tracks in her last few routines, but I’d love to see her do one with all music by Colombian artists. She could do another urban routine with some KAROL G and Maluma, or go the more traditional route with a vallenato or cumbia routine. 

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: Chloe Negrete always seems to have fierce and powerful routines and I would love to see her go for a routine that was almost gladiator or warriorlike. I feel like that vibe would fit her style and be a showcase anchor routine for the Wolfpack. 

Julianna: Recently on her Instagram story, Konnor McClain gave a sneak peek into her music for this upcoming season at LSU, and I feel like she could really pull off a themed routine. Traditionally, with a few notable exceptions, LSU does not do a lot of themed floor routines, but I feel like she would do well with one and break out of her shell transitioning from elite to the NCAA world. 

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I’m a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, so recently I’ve been obsessed with what Deion Sanders calls his “theme music”, and I can’t help but think that it would make fantastic floor music. I think a gamedaythemed routine with this music would be super cool, and I think Sloane Blakely could kill it! The facial expressions she makes when she celebrates her routine are super entertaining, and I think they’d go great in a themed routine like this. 

What theme would you choose for your own themed floor routine?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: I am definitely not good enough of a dancer to pull this off, but definitely a fun, marching-band style one. Think Margzetta Frazier’s themed routine at Meet The Bruins from a couple of seasons back. I can do a mean goose step! It’s the former band kid in me.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I’ll add the same caveat as Emma; I don’t think I could actually do it, but I’d love to do a routine of music by all-female rappers; something like Jordan Chiles’s 2022 routine (which I LOVED that she also did in elite), but with less pop and more hiphop. 

Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: A bit of a copout, but I did have my own theme routine! The dance came before I could really figure out the theme, but we got there eventually. It was filled with poses and isolated choreo sections from athletes I admire, giving it a true “it takes a village” theme (ex. – Ken Dryden leaning over his goalie stick). 

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: I grew up dancing and always loved performing routines where I did not have to smile. I preferred anything creepy or powerful so I would steer that direction for my own floor routine and do something where I would act possessed.

Julianna: If I could go back and do it again, I would want a routine like Norah Flatley’s from her senior season at UCLA in 2022. I’m not too sure what the actual title of her floor routine was, but for me personally, it was giving “warrior princess” vibes. That being said, I would definitely want something with a character to portray, something with sassy, sharp choreography; overall just something to really engage with the crowd. 

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I never did gymnastics so I don’t really know what kind of dance I’d enjoy, but I’d like to think that I’d like a super fun floor routine, whatever the theme may be. 


What about the music?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: So many to choose from… but Sing Sing Sing is so fun and a sentimental favorite for me. That would make a killer floor routine.


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: To capture the current triumvirate, I’d say one song each by Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion. But I wouldn’t be opposed to City Girls, Saweetie, Teyana Taylor… there are so many options. 


Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: This is my playlist from last year’s eighth night of Hanukkah’s time to shine. Picking from outside of that list, I’d love to do a Tumbalalaika routine in homage to my Yiddish roots (going with the it-takes-a-village theme), and I definitely cried when I saw Simone Biles using Unicorn this season. 

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: An instrumental version of Castle by Halsey, I have danced to that song before and I loved the vibes I was able to pull from.


Julianna: If you are one of my teammates reading this you probably already know my dream floor routine is to my beam song Yeah by Usher (I really hope this made a few people laugh). In a more ‘realistic’ dream scenario, I’ve always really loved really strong, funky pieces of music. I’ve done a couple of routines with music from the Euphoria and Succession soundtracks, and I really loved those (Brooklyn Moors floor routine is a good example of one of these pieces). 

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I’ve always loved Rachel Dickson’s floor music from 2019, and I feel like it has some great potential to incorporate some fun moves. 

The choreographer?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: Okay… don’t burn me at the stake… but K.J. Kindler. I love OU choreography. It’s super weird and creepy, and I think she scares me enough to turn me into a dancer.


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I feel like a lot of NCAA choreographers aren’t doing routines like that and I’d need to bring someone in from Hollywood or Miami. Hopefully, my program would have the budget!


Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: I know this is kind of boring, but myself? I took dance choreography classes in college for my minor and know how I move, so I might just play around with it myself.


Julianna: I’ve been choreographing for a couple of years now and I’ve loved doing different styles of routines, but I would have LOVED to have gotten to work with BJ Das, UCLA’s choreographer. She has one of the most unique, detailed styles of choreography and I would have loved to have learned from her. 

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I have to agree with Emma. Although K.J. Kindler’s choreography is a little bit out there, that’s why I like it! If I had a floor routine, I wouldn’t want it to be filled with the same moves as everybody else’s, and KJ definitely wouldn’t let that happen. 

And perhaps most importantly, if teams switched up leos for themes—think Operation Peacock but for actual meets—what would you wear for your theme routine?

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: I don’t think a marching band uniform can be well incorporated into a leotard, so I’d definitely do a glittery gold leotard to pay homage to the brass instruments of the world. 


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: Something super bright colored and sparkly for sure. Maybe highlighter pink in an ode to Nicki’s early eras. 


Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: I’d want it to look like Lindenwood’s white and gold leo from this past season, but changing the open back’s shape from a triangle to a hamsa. In a perfect world, the gold accents would be a mix of gold and turquoise. 


Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: I would have an allblack leo with only subtle crystals but a decent amount of mesh.


Julianna: I agree with Alyssa; I would want something clean and black but most definitely sparkly. One of my favorite leotards I have ever worn is the Temple black diamond leotard I wore at my first senior meet; so, something to resemble this. 

Emily Lockard illustrated headshotEmily L: I would wear a white leotard with carefully placed sparkles, kind of like Florida’s leo from nationals this year. 


And finally, for fun, choose a non-floor event and describe a theme “routine” you’d like to see on it.

Emma Hammerstrom illustrated headshotEmma: Stunt dogthemed beam routine. Just running down the beam and doing the occasional flip. Maybe catch a bow or a grip mid-air. Why not?


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I’d like to see a repeat of Peyton Ernst’s nohands beam routine (but performed for fun, not because injury necessitates it).


Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: For the chaos, bars. It’d get hammered on angle deductions, but I’d love to see a routine with no kips. Start it with a hecht mount (a la Eastern Michigan), then right into a straddle back and immediate transition back to the high bar. Uprise (no value, but it holds up my theme) and then the rest of the routine from there. I think commentators would have a field day explaining that composition.

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: Beam seems like the obvious event to use here, yet we hardly ever see themed beam routines. It would be amazing to have someone correlate creepy beam music with the on-the-beam dance. I am guessing you can sense a theme from my theme preferences by now.

Julianna: I would love to see someone do a Stick It themed beam routine. Chaos accompanied by hip-hop music, but still doing actual skills, topped with a chefs kiss, stuck landing. 


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Article by the editors of College Gym News

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