Toronto’s first Aesthetic Group Gymnastics World Championships
Archived Articles 02 Jun 2008  EWR
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Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics RG Club and Ritmika RG Club are honoured to bring the 9th Annual Aesthetic Group Gymnastics (AGG) World Championships to Toronto for the first time. This exciting event will take place at the University of Toronto Athletic Centre June 12-14, 2008, with over 400 international athletes, judges and coaches, featuring 28 teams, and representing 14 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, United States and Ukraine.

AGG is similar to the original form of rhythmic gymnastics, a widely popular sport that is recognized at the Olympic level. AGG differs from RG however, in that the exercises are done in a larger group, there is no apparatus and the emphasis is on natural, harmonic, flowing body movements. Because of these movements – leaning, pushing, pulling and waving, from the body’s core – AGG is judged higher on artistic ability than on technical merit.

AGG has flourished for more than 100 years in countries such as Finland and Estonia, but was only recognized as an international sport in 1996. Now several countries, particularly Russia and Bulgaria, compete in numerous international competitions each year and the first World Championships were held in Finland in 2000. Evelyn Koop, Director of Kalev Club, and Ritmika Club’s Annely Riga, are the founding members of the International Federation of Aesthetic Group Gymnastics (IFAGG).

“We have created a unique sporting event and opportunity that is a first for Canada”, states Koop, labeled by the media as the ‘godmother of Canadian rhythmic gymnastics’. “To host a World Championship competition here in Toronto is a real honour for us, since it is the first time this event has been held outside of Europe, and we hope it brings a new level to the sport in Canada”.

Several Ontario teams have participated in the AGG World Championships, and efforts are being made to encourage more AGG in clubs nationwide. The main objective is to have AGG recognized at the Olympic level. In order for this to happen, the Federation of International Gymnastics must first accept AGG as the independent (of RG) and artistic sport that it is.

The first round of the competition, the preliminaries, will take place on June 13th from 2-6pm, with the finals on Saturday June 14th, from 2-4pm. That same evening, from 7pm – 9pm, a Gala Performance will be held at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Featuring the gold, silver and bronze medalists from the competition, the gala will also include a special program of dance and gymnastics from top international athletes, set on stage with music and lights. The Gala is open to the public and tickets are $25 each, available through the St. Lawrence Centre box office.

The co-chairs of this event are Annely Riga (Ritmika RG Club) and Evelyn Koop (Kalev Estienne RG Club), whose involvement in the sport is extensive, and recognized internationally. Both clubs have traveled the world, and have also produced Olympians. Rhythmic Expressions is Kalev's AGG team, which have competed in every AGG World Championships to date. Koop still coaches with the assistance of other well-known coaches and choreographers, including Canadian dance choreographer Brian Foley, the choreographer for the Russian national team, Dmitri Begak, and Finnish choreographer and AGG expert Antton Laine.

Please also visit www.2008AGGWorldChampionships.... , for more information.
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