UCLA Gymnastics scored a major victory over the weekend with a season-opening win against Arizona State that included a floor routine from Nia Dennis that went viral. The Bruins star was nearly flawless in her routine celebrating “Black Excellence,” scoring a 9.95 out of 10.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Dennis said the routine was as much a mission statement as it was a reflection of those who came before. “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 newspaper.
The stepping in Dennis’ routine was an homage to her father, Casey, who stepped in college while involved in Greek life. The closing song — Tupac’s “California Love” — was a shoutout to Los Angeles. Dennis stepped to Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA,” a song in which the rapper contemplates his heritage and culture from multiple viewpoints.
The routine also included Soulja Boy’s breakout hit “Crank That.”
The multi-faceted routine marks the second time Dennis has gone viral as a gymnast. Last year, she performed a Beyonce-inspired floor routine set to “Crazy In Love,” “Lose My Breath,” and “Ego.” It wowed the judges, earning her a 9.975 out of 10.
She even appeared on “The Ellen Show,” where host Ellen Degeneres told Dennis that Beyonce loved the performance.
According to her UCLA biography, Dennis, a senior, is majoring in sociology and hopes to become a physical therapist.