How The Music Is Selected For Team USA Women’s Gymnastics

Team USA choreographer Dominic Zito spoke to MEL about selecting the songs that went into the gold medal-winning floor routines.

August 09, 2016
How The Music Is Selected For Team USA Women’s Gymnastics Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Today, the American women's gymnastics squad repeated their 2012 performance, taking the gold medal on Day 4 of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Because the U.S. team was a top qualifier, they got to close their victorious performance out on the floor. Led by Simone Biles, the team finished a full eight points ahead of their competition.


When considered alongside the vault, uneven bars, and balance beam, the women's floor is a strange event: It's the only Olympic gymnastics event set to music and gymnasts are judged based on their dancing and choreography.

MEL recently spoke to Dominic Zito, the choreographer for Team USA, about the thought processes behind the music selections for these floor routines. "For the choreography, everything needs to be picture-perfect, clear and exact. [national team coordinator Márta Károlyi  would] love it to be entertaining, too, but she wants those photographic memory moments," Zito said regarding how the music is picked. "And she wants the music to always be recognizable but current, like a piece that maybe was done in 1976 but then covered by a newer musician."

Zico detailed the two-year process behind the music selections for Team USA's Rio routines, telling MEL that themes such as "Spanish" are first decided upon, followed by genres. Zito also mentioned that hip-hop was not usually seen in floor events because, "On the international stage they don’t want that collegiate look."

According to Zito, Gabby Douglas is the only gymnast who has selected her own music for a floor routine in the past, after she used Shazam to find a Shakira song that was playing in the mall. "Gabby’s one of the only ones that picks out what she likes — she has a favorite style, that kind of salsa-Latin flair, which actually helps," Zito said.

Read the full MEL interview with Dominic Zito here.

How The Music Is Selected For Team USA Women’s Gymnastics