A Garden Party For 30 Gymnasts
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A Garden Party For 30 Gymnasts

The garden was jumping one recent night.

Actually, some 30 young girls were jumping — on the floor of Madison Square Garden.

And they were leaping and juggling and throwing hoops in the air.

The girls, aged 6-12, are students at the Forest Hills Rhythmic Gymnastics studio in the Queens neighborhood. They performed their routines at halftime of a recent WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars.

A crowd of 18,617 spectators, primarily kids from area summer camps, were in the stands.

“The group’s hard work is getting some well-deserved recognition,” said Alexander Spivak, the studio’s Ukrainian-born owner.

The girls who appeared at the Garden are his advanced students, among some 80 who train several days a week at the 24-year-old studio, which is based in the Forest Hills Jewish Center. Most are from Russian-speaking émigré families.

An MSG representative saw the gymnasts perform during a Father’s Day show and suggested they bring their act to the Garden.

Rhythmic gymnastics, an Olympic sport that has a low profile in this country, is popular in the former Soviet Union and parts of Eastern Europe. The sport, which features the girls throwing ribbons, clubs, hoops and ropes into the air, “combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, acrobatics, choreography, dance and apparatus movement,” Spivak said.

Forest Hills and neighboring Rego Park are home to thousands of immigrants from the FSU.

steve@jewishweek.org

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