Dedicated to Gymnastics and Dance – Practising for Perfection.

10 Feb 2016 Posted by: Guest blogger

Rhythmic gymnastics and dance are the passion of Maria Foster who founded the i-Star Academy based in Shoreham, West Sussex. Maria looks back on i-Star ‘s 2015 their best year ever celebrating success at every level and explains what it takes to succeed.

Facts about rhythmic gymnastics - A discipline which combines the arts of dance, ballet and gymnastics with the skilful manipulation of apparatus – ball, clubs and hoop. With the popularity of shows like Britain’s Got Talent there is a new generation of kids enjoying dance and wanting to perform and compete at all ages.

2015 was a year in which the dedication and hard work of i-Star students shone through to make them stars. The girls practice up to 3 times a week during the school term and also attend training days during the school holidays. They work together in teams and also on individual routines. For dancers the focus is on the core skills of flexibility, contemporary, ballet, jazz and modern dance steps. Rhythmic gymnasts combine their dance skills with strength, balance and acrobatics as well as learning to work with ribbon, rope, clubs, ball or hoop. Many of the girls do both rhythmic gymnastics and dance classes as the two disciplines are very beneficial to enhancing their skills. I was amazed by the commitment shown by our gymnasts and dancers in training this year. Training is fun but it can be hard as there are no shortcuts to the big day in the sparkly leotard, it’s just practice, practice and more practice. They pulled out all the stops pushing themselves to learn and practice new routines for the many competitions we attended. Their hard work was rewarded with some brilliant results all round.

Success in 2015 included:

  • Over eleven 1st, 2nd & 3rd places from both individual and groups at the International Dance Festival competition in Disneyland Paris.
  • The Senior Contemporary Dance Squad qualified for the World Dance Championships back in May at Starpower, London. They then went on to qualify in top 5 finalists at the Worlds competition in New York in August 2015 and then placed 2nd overall.
  • 24 of our gymnasts qualified for the prestigious British Championships in July 2015 at the Liverpool Echo Arena. One group (6 gymnasts) were crowned British Rhythmic Gymnastics Junior Group Champions. I-star also received 2 overall medals at the National Group Seeding event with Seniors achieving Silver medallists overall and the Juniors achieving Bronze medal overall.
  • We were also proud to have worked with a rising star of Rhythmic Gymnastics Hannah Martin. Hannah trained with us at Shoreham throughout 2015 and had a fantastic year representing Great Britain in 2 international competitions where she won 3 gold medals. She then went on to win 5 gold medals including ball, clubs, hoop and rope and the overall crown as English Junior Champion at the British Gymnastics English Junior Championships.

Watch Hannah's winning hoop routine

From our youngest reception dancers and gymnasts to our senior squads our coaches are dedicated to nurturing talent and enjoyment in their sport. Here’s to lots more dancing, spinning and sparkling with success in 2016.


About Maria Foster

“I started i-Star Academy in 2007 with an aspiration of offering a school that was a little bit different and special. Rhythmic gymnastics and dance have been a passion of mine since a young age. As a child I was fascinated by the beautiful Russian and Bulgarian rhythmic gymnasts that appeared on our TV, elegantly leaping across the floor with ribbons and performing to beautiful pieces of music. I instantly fell in love! I was also an 80’s child that sat glued to the TV watching every episode of ‘Fame’. Music was massively important to me and every piece - whether pop or classical was an inspiration for ribbon routine or a jazz piece wearing my favourite leg warmers. For me rhythmic gymnastics and dance go hand in hand and so my professional pathway has embraced both arts. Highlights in my career have included National Technical Officer at the London 2012 Olympic Games, choreographer and coach on BBC1 Tumble (working with the celebrities), Sports Relief 2014 (choreographing and coaching rhythmic gymnastics to celebrities and sports personalities such as Seb Coe, Olly Murs, Nick Grimshaw and John Bishop), representing GBR (as a coach and as a judge) at various top internationals including the World Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics in 2007 and 2010 and all the success that I have had with the fabulous students at i-Star Academy.

i-Star Academy has a strong ethos that the environment the students work in is professional and productive as well as continually encouraging and nurturing the creativity and ideas from the students. All of our success has been credit to the staff at i-star Academy and the friendly environment the dancers and gymnasts work in”.

See i-Star Academy's parent reviews on their KalliKids profile page or visit the i-Star Academy website to find out more.

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