Updated: Jun 21, 2021
Today’s post is dedicated to former Russian rhythmic gymnast Aleksandra Soldatova (Sasha). Soldatova officially ended her sports career in the end of 2020, but left a vast legacy for the rhythmic gymnastics fans around the world to cherish for years to come. For many, including myself, she personified grace and beauty in the sport. Her presence at every competition was truly that of a talented artist, rather than a fierce competitor. Sasha is adored internationally because of her astonishing body work and artistry. While she was an accomplished sportsperson and won a number of medals and titles, I always felt like the score displayed on the screen after each of her high-class performances was somehow irrelevant. Sasha’s routines bring enormous aesthetic pleasure and create a story for the audience to enjoy above all.
A large portion of Sasha’s popularity and appeal can be attributed to her extraordinary spinal flexibility and body strength. She often stunned the audience with her backscale pivots which she performed with apparent ease. My personal favourite was featured in her clubs routine from 2018 where she performed a backscale pivot starting from a seated position, which I thought was very unusual as this element is usually performed from standing. Sasha performed a total of 3 backscale pivots in that single routine alone.
Another very impressive feature of her style is the multiple and very fast penché turns that Sasha implemented with supreme precision. She was also able to slow them down with control, before coming to a complete stop while still holding penché position, even adding an accent at the end. This demonstrates her mastery of the turn which requires an enormous amount of strength. For comparison - while the penché turn is very common in rhythmic gymnastics, most other gymnasts would bring their foot down after the turns and use it to slow down and come to a stop.
In this post, I would like to specifically talk about Sasha’s clubs routine from 2018 because I believe it exemplifies her physical and artistic capabilities beautifully. In this routine, she performed to Shostakovich’s Waltz No.2, which is arguably the most popular waltz in the world. This, of course, makes it a highly demanding piece of music for any gymnast to attempt to interpret. I adore waltz music and I find Shostakovich’s work impactful and beautiful. I remember being absolutely thrilled with the musical choice while watching Sasha’s clubs routine for the first time back in 2018. The Second Waltz has a sounding that is dramatic, grand, and charged with intense and tumultuous emotions, due to the excellent use of the C minor key. As a gymnast, Soldatova is perfectly suited for this piece of music due to the high amplitude of her jumps, pirouettes, backbends and extensions and her being such a dramatic performer.
At the World Championships in Sofia in 2018, Sasha performed her clubs routine in a dark blue leotard which was streamlined and with a simple design. However, it complemented her routine very well and allowed for the music to come through and shine, without being distracting or over-decorated. It might not be obvious at first sight, but the leotard is in fact long-sleeved, with beautiful crystal embellishments around the hands which suit Sasha’s long swan-like arms and add to the overall aesthetics of the routine. The leotard creates a sophisticated look which gives justice to the timelessness of the routine and the music.
Sasha’s routines were all phenomenal and I look forward to writing more about them in the future, especially the ones from 2018 – the year I think was her strongest. Needless to say, I will miss watching her perform at competitions and the many varied routines and stories she was able to tell. And while she often left her heart on the carpet for the audience, I am sure the audience will also keep a very special place for her in their hearts. I am grateful for Soldatova’s presence in the world of rhythmic gymnastics, and while I was hopeful to see her perform at the Tokyo Olympics, I hope she is doing great and feeling proud of the wonderful legacy she has left behind during her impressive sports career.
Thank you for reading.
See you next time,
Edited on 21.06.2021 to update multimedia.