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UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis talks about her viral floor routine

The UCLA senior can't get enough of the "positive vibes" she's felt since her recent floor routine set to music by Black artists was viewed by millions.
/ Source: TODAY

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis left millions of people with a pure sense of joy after seeing her viral floor routine set to music by Black artists at a Pac-12 competition last week.

Now that she's had almost a week to take it in, the Bruins senior can relate to the feeling.

"Oh, my goodness, this week has been so crazy, so insane," Dennis said on TODAY Friday. "I'm just overwhelmed with love and joy, and so many positive messages and so many positive vibes. I'm just so grateful."

Dennis' electric routine set to the music of Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Tupac and Missy Elliott earned her a 9.95 score from the judges at a meet on Jan. 23 against Arizona State and a 10 from everyone from Elliott herself to former first lady Michelle Obama.

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UCLA Bruins defeated the Arizona Wildcats in the season opener of Gymnastics.
UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis delivered a show-stopping flour routine at a meet against Arizona State that had people cheering around the world.Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

She also shared everything that was going through her mind as she pulled off the show-stopping routine.

"I'm thinking about so many different things at such a quick pace," the 21-year-old said. "I'm thinking about my mental cues for my gymnastics skills, I'm remembering to smile and have fun, I'm also laughing at my teammates, laughing at inside jokes, dancing with my coaches. It's so many fun things happening in one moment that I'm just living in the moment."

Her soaring performance in front of an empty gym in the Bruins' season opener earned her Pac-12 Specialist of the Week honors earlier this week, but its impact was felt almost immediately after it was posted on Twitter by UCLA Gymnastics, where it has been viewed more than 10 million times.

"This is what #blackexcellence looks like. @DennisNia does it again!" UCLA Gymnastics wrote.

"Honestly, I realized pretty much 20 minutes after it was posted, after that video was posted, and just the amount of love that video was getting and so quickly," Dennis said. "I was just so blown away, and I'm just so honored and thankful."

The routine, which lasted just over a minute and a half, showed off Dennis' kinetic dance moves, gleaming smile and gymnastic prowess in the air, all to a mashup of music by Black artists.

"Snappin," Elliott commented on the UCLA Gymnastics tweet with a fire emoji.

It even earned raves from a man who has seen countless performances by Dennis over the years, including last year's viral high-energy routine set to Beyoncé. The senior from Columbus, Ohio, meant the routine as a tribute to her father, Casey, who has been a tireless supporter of her career along with her mother, Deetra.

"I'm a daddy's girl, I look up to him so much," Dennis said in an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt. "I really wanted to shout him out and pay a little tribute to him."

UCLA Bruins defeated the Arizona Wildcats in the season opener of Gymnastics.
Dennis also dedicated the exuberant routine to her father, who has been one of her biggest supporters. Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

"Words can't even describe how proud of her I am," Casey Dennis said. "I think I was just as much as awed as the rest of the world. There's some aspect of the performance that touched everyone. To see that impact is just awesome."

The triumphant routine also came seven months after Dennis underwent shoulder surgery. She said coming up with the routine was "a team effort."

"We just made this vision come to life," she said.

It also earned her praise from the most decorated gymnast in world championships history, four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles.

"Okay @DennisNia do the damn thing girl 🔥 this was so fun to watch! keep killing it!" Biles tweeted.