So it’s not surprising that she gets a ton of motivation from working with volunteer assistant coach BJ Das—a professional dancer who has performed live with Beyoncé, Pink, and Usher—to get her gymnastics routines on point.
“It’s been really amazing. She’s provided a lot of different styles and a lot of different moves that I can work with and different things that I can try, especially moves that I’m not really comfortable with, breaking me out of my comfort zone a little bit, which I think is really cool,” Dennis said during a Bruin Banter YouTube video.
And it’s paid off—as one fan wrote in the video segment, Dennis has solidified her role as a “fan favorite” on floor whose routines “get the crowd screaming the loudest.”
“I love the energy; we love a floor party,” she said in the video. “I love when the crowd gets super loud, because then I feel like we can all just rock out and have the biggest dance party in the world.”
2. Floor isn’t the only event she dominates.
According to her UCLA Gymnastics bio, in 2019, Nia was first-team All-American on uneven bars. She also earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors on bars in 2019 and vault in 2018.
Plus, according to her bio from USA Gymnastics, vault is her self-proclaimed favorite event. That’s not to say she struggles with beam, though: In fact, at the February 23 meet, she tied her career high of 9.975 on it, according to UCLA.
3. Her amazing performance was also a birthday celebration.
Dennis’s viral performance came on February 23, which was cause for another celebration—the gymnast’s 21st birthday.
On February 23, 2020, Nia posted a pic of her rocking heels and a gorgeous emerald green sequin dress on Instagram for her 21st birthday, complete with a birthday hat and champagne emoji.
“21 21 21 cheers to more life!” she captioned her post.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate that birthday milestone. But for even more icing on the cake? During that meet, the crowd actually sang “Happy Birthday” to Dennis, as seen in a behind-the-scenes video posted by UCLA Gymnastics about Nia’s performance.
4. She’s been a gymnast since 2006.
According to her bio with USA Gymnastics, Dennis started the sport in 2006—meaning she’s been dgoing gymnastics since age 6 or 7. She credits her parents for inspiring her to give gymnastics a try. (Along with her parents, Casey and Deetra Dennis, who are often at her meets, Dennis also has a little sister, Mya.)
“My parents said that when I was young I would always play around on the monkey bars,” she said on the site. “They suggested that I get started in gymnastics.”
Since then, she’s racked up the honors, both nationally and internationally. According to her UCLA bio, Nia was a member of the U.S. National Team from 2013-15 before coming to UCLA, and also competed in the Women’s Junior Olympic National Championships in 2017, according to her bio on USA Gymnastics.
So what’s next for Dennis? The team’s next meet—their second-to-last of the season—will take place against California on March 8. That’ll be followed by the PAC-12 Championships on March 21, the NCAA Regionals on the weekend of April 2-4, and the NCAA Championships during the weekend of April 17-18.
In the meantime, though, Dennis is super active on social media, so you can stay up-to-date on what’s happening with her there. She has an Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat profile (@n_dennis23) that you can follow her on. Peep her TikTok for more amazing dance moves—you never know if they’ll show up in one her next floor routines!