Rhythmic gymnasts' crazy contortions

While few outside the competition venue actually know what these girls are doing with ribbons, hoops and balls, rhythmic gymnastics does make for compelling photography. Check out these shots from London qualifying and past Olympics. -- Jason Owens

ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Spain dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Qualification
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Spain dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Alexandra Piscupescu of Romania in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Alexandra Piscupescu of Romania in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: The Great Britain team in action in the Group All-Around event during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: The Great Britain team in action in the Group All-Around event during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Tsvetelina Stoyanova of Bulgaria in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Tsvetelina Stoyanova of Bulgaria in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Czarniecka of Poland in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Czarniecka of Poland in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Beijing August 24
Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
Beijing August 24
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Eleni Andriola of Greece performs in the rhythmic gymnastics individual qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Indiv All-Around Qualification
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Eleni Andriola of Greece performs in the rhythmic gymnastics individual qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Djamila Rakhmatova of Uzbekistan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Djamila Rakhmatova of Uzbekistan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: China dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Qualification
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: China dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Federica Febbo of Italy in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Federica Febbo of Italy in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 28: The Spanish team compete in the hoops and balls round of the rhythmic gymnastics group finals on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Final
ATHENS - AUGUST 28: The Spanish team compete in the hoops and balls round of the rhythmic gymnastics group finals on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: The Ukainian team dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Qualification
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: The Ukainian team dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Nicol Ruprecht of Austria in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Nicol Ruprecht of Austria in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: The Spain team in action in the Group All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: The Spain team in action in the Group All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Djamila Rakhmatova of Uzbekistan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Djamila Rakhmatova of Uzbekistan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Belarusian team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Belarusian team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Rhythmic Gymnastics
Rhythmic Gymnastics
Rhythmic Gymnastics
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Ganna Rizatdinova of Ukraine in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Bulgarian team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Bulgarian team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Kseniya Moustafaeva of France in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Kseniya Moustafaeva of France in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 21: The Greek team compete in the Group All-Around Qualification rhythmic gymnastics event held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 13 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 21: The Greek team compete in the Group All-Around Qualification rhythmic gymnastics event held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Jana Berezko-Marggrander of Germany in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Jana Berezko-Marggrander of Germany in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 22: Team Belarus competes in the Group All-Around Qualification round of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium on Day 14 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 22, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 14 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 22: Team Belarus competes in the Group All-Around Qualification round of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium on Day 14 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 22, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Alexandra Piscupescu of Romania in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Alexandra Piscupescu of Romania in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Anna Alyabyeva of Kazakhstan in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Julie Ashley Zetlin, of the United States, performs with the ball in the individual all-around rhythmic gymnastics qualifications during the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
Julie Zetlin
Julie Ashley Zetlin, of the United States, performs with the ball in the individual all-around rhythmic gymnastics qualifications during the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Kseniya Moustafaeva of France in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day One
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Kseniya Moustafaeva of France in action in the Individual All-Around during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification round at North Greenwich Arena on January 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Azerbaijan team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Azerbaijan team perform in the 3 Hoops and 2 Clubs rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Russian team perform in the 5 Ropes rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 24: The Russian team perform in the 5 Ropes rotation in the Group All-Around Final held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 22: Team Japan competes in the Group All-Around Qualification round of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium on Day 14 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 22, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Olympics Day 14 - Rhythmic Gymnastics
BEIJING - AUGUST 22: Team Japan competes in the Group All-Around Qualification round of the Rhythmic Gymnastics event at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium on Day 14 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 22, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 28: The Russian team compete in the hoops and balls during the rhythmic gymnastics group finals on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Final
ATHENS - AUGUST 28: The Russian team compete in the hoops and balls during the rhythmic gymnastics group finals on August 28, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Brazil dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Group All-Around Qualification
ATHENS - AUGUST 26: Brazil dances in the rhythmic gymnastics group qualifications on August 26, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Galatsi Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympic Qualification - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Three
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Daria Kondakova of Russia in action in the Individual All-Around Final during the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics at North Greenwich Arena on January 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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