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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Olympics Day 16 - Rhythmic Gymnastics

Beijing August 24

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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 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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)