Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which individuals or groups of 5 or more manipulate one or two pieces of apparatus: rope, hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon and freehand (no apparatus).
Rhythmic gymnastics grew out of the ideas of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), François Delsarte (1811–1871), and Rudolf Bode (1881–1970), who all believed in movement expression, where one used dance to express oneself and exercise various body parts.
Peter Henry Ling further developed this idea in his 19th-century Swedish system of free exercise, which promoted "aesthetic gymnastics", in which students expressed their feelings and emotions through body movement.
This idea was extended by Catharine Beecher, who founded the Western Female Institute in Ohio, United States, in 1837.
In Beecher's gymnastics program, called "grace without dancing", the young women exercised to music, moving from simple calisthenics to more strenuous activities.
During the 1880s, Émile Jaques-Dalcroze of Switzerland developed eurhythmics, a form of physical training for musicians and dancers.
George Demeny of France created exercises to music that were designed to promote grace of movement, muscular flexibility, and good posture.All of these styles were combined around 1900 into the Swedish school of rhythmic gymnastics, which would later add dance elements from Finland.Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill.Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition.The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, World Cup and Grand-Prix Series.