Fans are flipping over Nia Dennis' viral routine.
The 21-year-old gymnast spoke about her unforgettable floor exercise during the Jan. 28th episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Last week, Dennis and her fellow University of California, Los Angeles Bruins competed against the Arizona State Wildcats at the season opener in L.A.. Dennis performed a routine set to the music of Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Soulja Boy, Megan Thee Stallion and the late Tupac Shakur.
"This routine, I believe, is a reflection of everything that I am as a woman today," she told Ellen DeGeneres. "And I picked a lot of really influential artists, Black artists that had a huge impact in the Black community. For starters, Kendrick Lamar, you know, he's a huge activist in his music. We're not allowed to use words and sounds in our floor routine. So, I figured if I wasn't going to be able to say it, I wanted to do it in a different way and shine light on gymnastics."
Dennis earned a nearly perfect score—a 9.95 out of 10."This is what #blackexcellence looks like," the UCLA gymnastics account tweeted along with a clip of her performance. "@niaadennis has done it again!"
"Now that's what I call fierce!" the former first lady wrote on Twitter. "You're a star, @DennisNia!"
Needless to say, Dennis was pretty excited to see the tweet. "That is so insane," she recalled in her chat with DeGeneres. "Oh my gosh. Michelle Obama, first of all, I love you. I was speechless. I found out actually in the middle of practice. Literally, all of my teammates came over to me and we were all just cheering and so excited. Not only did she tweet me, she actually posted the entire video. So, that means she has to have it, like, in her camera roll or something and just must watch it in her free time maybe? Anyway, love her."
Dennis noted there were also some famous faces in the stands. Because of social distancing, fans couldn't attend the meet in person. So, the UCLA team put up cardboard cutouts of their celebrity alumni, including Gabrielle Union, to feel their support. DeGeneres and Stephen tWitch Boss even gave Dennis cutouts of themselves for future competitions.
This routine marked Dennis' first performance since last season. The sports star, who went viral in early 2020 for her Beyoncé-inspired routine, had been recovering from injuries.
"So, actually, last year, I was competing every weekend with a torn bicep, torn labrum, arthritis, bone chipped off," she said. "So, it was really bad, and I really took this time to heal and recover. And I was working so hard every single day over quarantine. I was in therapy every single day. I was training, finding anywhere I could to work out—stairs, a park—you know, doing everything I possibly could to stay in shape so that by the time season started I would be ready. And my biggest goal was to never give up, and that's what I did."
Now that she's in her senior year, Dennis is thinking about what's next. She said she has aspirations to do stunt doubling or dancing.
Watch the video to see her interview and part of her routine.