July 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

UCLA’s Nia Dennis goes viral with #BlackExcellence routine

Nia Dennis did it again.

The UCLA senior whose Beyoncé-inspired floor routine went viral last year returned with a dynamic hip-hop routine that gained more than 2 million views on Twitter in less than 24 hours after the Bruins won their season opener against Arizona State on Saturday.

Dennis’ 9.95 score clinched a close 196.15-196.95 victory for the Bruins (1-0).

In constructing her newest floor routine, Dennis tapped into her own personal history. Inspired by her father, who was involved in Greek fraternity life, Dennis incorporated stepping. She shouted out UCLA by flashing four fingers on each hand and did the C-walk to Tupac’s “California Love” while writing her name with her finger in the air, a signature dance move that’s been included in each of her floor routines at UCLA.

Dennis said she wanted to have a “dance party” with her routine this year. Her teammates joined in with every step as she performed to the medley of hip-hop hits, including songs from Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion.

“This routine definitely reflects everything I am today as a woman,” Dennis told reporters. “Of course I had to incorporate a lot of parts of my culture.”

The Bruins work with volunteer assistant coach BJ Das to craft their floor routines. Das, a former college gymnast, is a professional dancer and choreographer and has performed with Beyonce, Pink and Usher.

Dennis, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, received an invitation to be a guest on “The Ellen Show” last year after her Beyoncé routine brought social media shout outs from stars such as Alicia Keys and Gabrielle Union. That routine earned her a career-high 9.975.

This year, Elliott was one of the viewers to respond to Dennis, replying to the video with “snappin” and a fire emoji.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles retweeted Dennis’ routine and wrote, “okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl this was so fun to watch! keep killing it!”