This ultimate form of creative expression through physical means first began in Ancient Egypt, albeit not as we know it.
Artifacts have been discovered which show women holding spheres and working in groups to exercise in unison, much like the modern-day version of Gymnastics. Although, this seemed to have been more of a recreational activity than a competitive one.
These days however, Rhythmic Gymnastics is a little more complex. This women-only event includes the use of ropes, hoops, balls, clubs or ribbons accompanied by music, and is performed in individual or group events.
In the 1800s rhythmic gymnastics was referred to as group gymnastics, and included a trace of basic choreography. It gradually grew until the first experimental competitions appeared in eastern Europe during the 1930s, when its increasing complexity began to draw a more varied audience.
Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport which evolved from many different disciplines. It incorporates elements of classical ballet, such as pliés and arabesques, as well as the German system of apparatus work for muscle development and the Swedish method of using free style exercise to help develop a personal rhythm and to express emotions through body movement.
Rhythmic Gymnastics underwent many changes before its inclusion in the Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles, however it remained an individual event until the inclusion of a team event in 1996 in Atlanta.
While the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique does not recognize male competitive rhythmic gymnastics, it has a huge following in the U.S, Canada, and Russia along with such Asian countries of Japan and Malaysia.
Japan was the first country to create official rules for its events in the 1970s. Stick gymnastics was the first masculine version of this sport, originally developed only as a means of improving physical fitness.
These competitions tend to be quite intense at the high school and college level in Japan, but so far there are still no male Olympic events. The country has spent over 30 years developing the male competitions, and is working with the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique to gain recognition and eventually gain its rightful place at international events.
No matter what ones gender happens to be, this sport has empowered people from all over the world to push their physical and creative abilities in the name of art. What is now known as rhythmic gymnastics is a combination of exceptional dexterity, elegance, and competitive drive. It started with many different like-minded visionaries who saw a vast potential for expression in the human body.