Twirling is believed to have started with knife, torch and stick tossing performances at dance festivals in Western Europe and Asia, and then began to progress from there as soldiers twirled rifles during marches. The sport of baton twirling got its start in North America after the American Civil War when Reuben Webster Millsaps began a twirling program at Millsaps College in Mississippi.
Today, the sport of twirling involves the handling of a single ‘baton’ (a metal stick with a piece of rubber on each end) or multiple batons by an athlete during a choreographed routine that includes elements of dance and gymnastics. It requires skillful coordination, agility, flexibility and body control as well as years of training and dedicated practice to reach a high competitive level.
Competitive baton twirling is classified by two primary factors, skill and age. Many countries have national organizations that govern twirling competitions, but at the international level, three governing bodies are recognized, the World Twirling Association, the Global Alliance of National Baton Twirling & Majorette Associations, and the World Federation of National Baton Twirling Associations which hosts the World Championships.
The 2018 World Championships of Twirling were hosted by Norway (March 28 – April 1), and it was big and amazing as 683 athletes and 18 nations competed during the four day event at Håkons Hall in Lillehammer. Competition events included Freestyle (senior & junior/women and men), Compulsory Moves (strut, solo, dance twirl, pairs, trios and show choir), Single Baton, 2 Batons and 3 Batons.
If you missed the live stream broadcast of the 2018 World Championships of Twirling, there’s still time to watch video recordings of the finals competition. Just click/tap “Watch Again” or select from the video posts located on the media players below ↓ (Note: There are two separate media players for each of the four days, Part 1 & Part 2)
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Feature photo is a still clip from the video ‘Top Baton Twirler’ by Manny Crisostomo