Gymnastics Choreography Media with Geza Pozsar

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McKayla Maroney Wins at 2013 P&G Championships


Aug. 17 2013 – 2013

2012 Olympic team gold medalist McKayla Maroney of Long Beach, Calif./All Olympia, competed on floor and vault, winning event titles on both. On floor, she tumbled a double layout, a two-and-a-half twist to punch front full and Arabian double front for a two-day total of 30.100 points. Maroney vaulted her trademark Amanar and followed with a Yurchenko half on, front layout full off, for her second vault, giving her the highest two-vault average of the competition at 31.200 points.

View McKayla's floor routine:

Geza Pozsar, choreographer for 2012 Olympic star McKayla Maroney, in Grand Rapids working with local gymnasts

Friday, August 17, 2012

By Peter J. Wallner

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Geza Pozsar has choreographed routines for some of the greatest gymnasts in Olympic history, but how McKayla Maroney's floor exercise evolved still gives him a chuckle.

He found the music for the Olympic champion's routine while in a barbershop in Glendale, Calif.

"Sometimes, you never know," Pozsar said with a laugh.

Pozsar, who is in Grand Rapids choreographing routines for gymnasts at Radiant Sportz, has worked with a who's who in gymnastics, including Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller. He worked with the entire U.S. Olympic teams from 1984 to 1996. Before that, he worked with Comaneci and the Romanian team before he defected in 1980 with legendary coach Bela Karoly.

He considers Maroney among the best ever. The 16-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., won a silver medal in the vault and was part of the Fierce Five that won team gold in the just-completed Olympics in London. She worked with Pozsar in choreographing the music for her floor routines in 2011 and 2012.

"Those were the days," by Mary Hopkins was used in 2011 when Maroney finished fifth on the floor at the CoverGirl Classic in Illinois, and participated in the team gold-medal performance at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

For this year's competition her coaches, Arthur Akopyan and Galina Marinova, suggesting using music from an Armenian composer named Samuel Yervinyan, but Poszar struggled to find the right song.

"I was in an Armenian barbershop and I saw he was selling CDs,"Pozsar said. "So I asked him if he had any instrumental music. He gave me these CDs but I do not read Armenian. But when he played "Yemu" I said, ‘Hey, that's it' and called Arthur and said, ‘Hey, I found the guy!'"

Maroney, he said, "just loved it and she loved the routine, too. It is very, very dramatic and very passionate music and she can express herself very well on the floor."

She performed it at the Visa Championships in St. Louis in June but suffered a fall in warm ups before the second day of competition and was scratched. She did not perform the floor in the Olympics.

Last year, Pozsar sold his long-time gym in Sacramento to focus on developing routines for young athletes around the country. He estimated he will visit seven to 10 states a year. That includes a stop at Radiant Sportz.

"He's just wonderful," said Stacey Ballinger, owner of Radiant Sportz. Ballinger said they have contracted with Pozsar since 2007. "Back then, I decided I wanted to get the best choreographer. I found out he might be available, we exchanged emails, touched base and it was as simple as that."

This week, Pozsar has worked with 12 eligible gymnasts on developing music for the floor exercise and moves on the balance beam.

It's not a simple process.

"He and I will sit down and will talk about an athlete, and talk with the athlete, about their talents and personality," Ballinger said. "We'll also send him video … What he does so well is fit the music to the body lines and body type of an athlete."

Over the years Pozsar has learned to distinguish what works.

"You have to know how they move, their body type, what they want and what the parents want – and sometimes that's a big deal," he said with a laugh. "But they (the athlete) will describe a routine they've seen (from an Olympian) and I use that to get an idea."

Hannah Rumsey, an 11-year-old from Sparta, was singled out by Pozsar as a gymnast "with incredible talent." She spent part of Thursday working on new techniques on the beam developed by Pozsar.

"I just enjoy it. The time I put in is something I want to do," said Rumsey, who typically trains 20 hours, five days a week at the gym.

"Working with Geza is fun because you know he's choreographed so many great gymnasts who've done well so you know you're getting a good routine," said Anna Crysler. The 12-year-old from Rockford won the floor exercise for her age group at a regional competition in April in Illinois.

The talent level throughout the United States is impressive, Pozsar said, and a future Olympian can be found just about anywhere. But, he added, identifying potential and developing greatness are two different things.

"The amount of dedication is very great," he said. "The girls, they have to give up so much of their time. Over time, they realize it's a very, very difficult sport."

Here is a video of McKayla Maroney's floor exercise from the first day of the 2012 Visa Championships:

McKayla got a new look trough her new floor routine choreographed by Geza.

McKayla Maroney, no longer a one-trick pony

22 Mar 2011

The Couch Gymnast

McKayla Maroney did herself a monster of a favour this weekend in Jesolo by winning the senior AA competition. In just one meet she has proved that she is worth far, far more than the sum of her Amanar in a US team line-up. Instead, she has shown her greater capability and depth as a gymnast by making massive upgrades and adding well over a point to her difficulty since Nationals last year.

To see just how much improvement has been made, take a look at this breakdown, from her D and E scores at Day 2 of the US Nationals in 2010, compared to her scores in Jesolo this weekend.

Nationals Jesolo
D- 6.5 D- 6.5
E- 9.4 E- 9.500
Uneven Bars
D- 4.9 D- 5.3
E- 7.150 E- 8.5
Balance Beam
D- 5.1 D- 5.8
E- 8.750 E- 8.450
Floor Exercise
D- 5.7 D- 5.6
E- 8.3 E- 8.2

While the stellar Amanar score has been her bread and butter through both competitions, not to mention her beautiful and seemingly effortless execution of it, this weekend's honours were earned with some invaluable upgrades on other apparatus.

For the most part, these have happened on beam and bars, adding a sizeable .7 to her beam potential and a .4 to what was a decidedly weak bars set last year. Her floor has dropped by .1, but the other upgrades more than make up for it.

What is also outstanding about Maroney, however, is that for a total ‘leg' gymnast she still manages to show gorgeous execution. She is not your typical stereotypical powerhouse by any means, even though the block she gets off the vault is unlike anything I have ever seen in a gymnasts of her size. While her bars is relatively simple, even with the upgrades, her bodylines are now better and her form is becoming quite impeccable. This reflected in the 1.35 point improvement in her execution score on that event between Nationals and Jesolo.

Her artistic growth can be attributed, as explained by the Gymnastic Examiner in September last year, by a change of gyms. Maroney moved from Gym Max to AOGC, home of Mattie Larson and Sam Shapiro. It is a gym renowned for its emphasis on execution and choreography. With Marinova and Atkopyan's work on her technique and dance, Maroney told Blythe Lawrence, "I feel like I am better."

And she clearly is. The standout, the proof, is on floor. While we might expect to see some big tumbling from her, her routine is actually one of the best of the US Jesolo bunch because of the dance. The choreography does her wonderful favours, with its emphasis on flexibility and lyricism. And she does herself a massive favour again, by really attempting to inhabit the routine. From the clever use of the open hands at the start, to the dramatic tango-esque ‘stepping' motion that infuses the piece with drama, to the lovely close to the ground work, to the way she performs her turn- it is surprisingly polished. She has been put through her paces on the dance steps at AOGC and it works. Although it will is not the most artistic you will see, it is much better than your average US floor routine, I would have to say.

Beam was perhaps her most iffy event at Jesolo, but it is often hard to know how much to put down to nerves. Her turning leaps and jumps certainly need work, but again, once you iron out the nerves she might be more willing to go full out on them.

As she works towards Classics and Nationals, McKayla Maroney has put herself in an excellent position. Sure, on a good day, she might not be able to beat Jordyn Wieber- on difficulty alone. But, she has put herself out there as an all-arounder and even if Martha is not about to jump in and use her on bars in any major meets, it is now known she can perform when needed, everwhere. Also, her floor routine will earn valuable artistry points. In a line of US floor routines, it is hers that will stand out artistically in an international meet.

She already made a strong case for herself the minute she showed off that Amanar as a thirteen-year-old, but now, things are looking very good for Ms McKayla Maroney.

That doesn't mean we are not looking forward to seeing that TTY one day!


By Lesley Young

Special to DeSooto Appeal

As American gymnasts Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes and Shannon Miller waited with anticipation for their final scores at the 1996 Olympics, hoping to bring home the gold medal, many Americans waited along with them.

And as the announcement was made and the team danced with joy, there in the background stood their coach, Geza Pozsar, quietly proud of his girls.

Saturday, the coach of more than 30 Olympic gold medalists taught quietly at USA Elite Gymnastics in Olive branch.

"I've helped here long time. We've had several years' collaboration," Pozsar said in broken English and a quiet voice that makes the listener lean in to hear. "There are some very good gymnasts here. I've seen lot of talent."

Geza shows a gymnast how to move

Pozsar met Donna and Gene Alexin, the owners of USA ELite Gymnastics, at national trials, and the Alexins approached him about visiting their gym. "They asked to come and train, and so I come once, and I come twice, and I just kept coming," he laughed.

"He's just really incredible," Donna said.

Pozsar is a choreographer, which means he chooses the music and develops the floor routines for Olympic gymnasts.

He got his start in Romania - first, as a ballet performer, then a dance coach, and then the choreographer for the Romanian gymnastics team, Pozsar defected to the United States with Nadia's famous coach, Bella Karolyi, with whom he worked until Karolyi retired in 2001.

"The night before I defected I talked to my wife on the phone and she asked me what I wanted for dinner when I got home," he said. He said Hungarian goulash.

Pozsar had to wait several months to get his goulash, until the U.S. secretary of State brought his wife and daughter then 2, to the States to live.

Now, his daughter is actor George Clooney's assistant, and Pozsar has his own gym in Sacramento, Calif., and visits gyms, such as USA Elite, all over the country.

USA Elite has put 17 girls through college with full scholarships. the gym has four "level 10" girls, which means they are just below elite, the highest level a gymnast can reach; and has had 27 to qualify for Junior Olympic national Championships.

Saturday, on his Olive Branch visit, Pozsar picked a perky little polka-like tune for 10-year-old Jordan Cummins's routine, which included head bobs and flips and bounces reminiscent of Nadia's.

Quite contrary to his long time partner Karolyi's reputation, Pozsar is quiet and calm, barely audible, elegant as a ballet dancer would be. And after reaching the top in his profession, he's humble too.

"From the words of American poet: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much money is in the bank. What matters is if you've made a difference in the life of a child. That's my credo," he said.

To Jordan, who's probably never head of Nadia Comaneci, she had simple words about the experience of training with the best.

"It's real cool," said the Southaven girl.


By Jon W. Sparks

The gymnastics royalty has arrived.

Tuesday he ruled in a weary warehouse in Olive Branch where florescent lights flicker and buzz irritably.

But the eager young subjects are fully charged by Geza Pozsar, a world famous gymnastics coach and choreographer. He achieved nobility working with the Romanian National Gymnastics Team (including superstar Nadia Comaneci), and after defecting to the United States in 1981, inspiring a host of gymnastics celebs from Mary Lou Retton through the golden 1996 Olympic team.

Geza Pozsar works with a gymnast

And it's just possible he might nurture future medalists form the Mid-south.

As a veteran of four Olympics, eight World Championships, and a lifetime of teaching and encouraging, he has witnessed plenty. This summer's Olympic events and misadventures- are but a tick in history.

"Little mistakes make a big difference," Pozsar remarks pragmatically. He is committed to excellence, but there is more to gymnastics than a score.

One of his favorite stories is of a student who's been with him since age 6. She earned a college scholarship even though she never made the national team.

But she was unflagging.

"She says she knows she's mediocre but she got a scholarship. I'm proud of her."

Pozsar visits Memphis several times a year from his school in Sacramento because he sees similar devotion. "I find kids here are dedicated, talented, and have potential. I got attached and it's just so nice to see them grow and get better and better."

Tiny Elizabeth Myers is one such child. He's barely 8 years old but with tons of energy. As gymnasts and parents gather in the practice area, she beelines to the balance beam and wears it out. Later on the mat, she'll move with authority to "Chantilly lace" as Pozsar offers gentle direction.

Elizabeth's mother, Kim Myers, says the setup is ideal for home-schoolers who gather at the USA Elite Gymstars facility in Olive Branch (but soon moving to Collierville) for school (8 a.m. to noon) and gymnastics (12:30 to 6 p.m.).

Elizabeth isn't doing this because she adhere to Pozsar's philosophy that gymnastics keep kids out of trouble, are healthier than TV and video games, and help develop coordination. Her mother says it's more basic than that. She will be in the 2012 Olympics.

"Just ask her."

Geza inspects a gymnasts' routine

Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal

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