Born November 17, 1976, in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, Tamara Levinson is one of the highest ranked
American rhythmic gymnasts in history. Although her competitive
career was relatively short, she influenced a generation of
up-and-coming U.S. performers.
Because of the lack of training
facilities in the U.S., Levinson's parents opened Rhythmflex in
Rockville, Maryland -- and it is still one of the top U.S. gyms
today. After a moderately successful junior career, Levinson
burst onto the senior scene at the 1992 Olympic Trials. She
vaulted past her more experienced competitors to earn the second
American berth to the Olympics, an achievement that surprised no
one more than Levinson herself.
But at the Olympics, Levinson's
*first* international competition, the feisty 16-year-old gave in
to nerves and counted many mistakes for 40th place. No such
problems would rattle her at the 1992 World Championships just a
few months later, and the expressive teen shot up the ranks to
19th place, an extremely satisfying result for a newcomer from a
lesser known rhythmic country.
At the 1993 World Championships, a
much improved and more experienced Levinson would find the
competition a bit tougher. The new U.S. National Champion placed
27th, the highest of any American athlete. She continued her roll
into 1994, once again taking the U.S. National title and
receiving the 1994 U.S. Athlete of the Year award. But after that
summer's U.S. Olympic Festival, Levinson called it quits, citing
exhaustion. But after several months out of training, she had a
change of heart and returned to the gym.
In 1995, Levinson picked up where
she left off by winning the U.S. Rhythmic Challenge in high
style. She garnered the most medals of any rhythmic athlete at
the 1995 Pan American Games by winning the silver in the
all-around, gold in the team event and ribbon, and a trio of
bronzes for rope, ball, and clubs. But at the 1995 Four Continents
Championships, a tired Levinson could only muster 6th place in
the all-around and 2nd with rope. She decided to retire for good
this time, at the ripe old age of 19.
Levinson then transferred her
dance skills to the New York theater scene, where she has
performed in many different shows -- including popular
off-Broadway productions. She is a member of the innovative
Antigravity dance troupe, as well as a dancer for several famous
Tamara Levinson made her mark on
the U.S. and international rhythmic world by taking chances and
performing unusual, eye-catching routines. Her fast-moving 1995
rope and mysterious 1993 ribbon stand out for their ability to
showcase both her clean technique and fearless expression.
Levinson, despite her short career, still holds the American
record for the highest placement ever in a non-boycotted World
Championships or Olympic Games.
Update (December 2001). IG reports that Levinson is currently a dancer in
Madonna's "Drowned World" tour.
(August 2011) - Levinson was inducted into USAG's Hall of Fame in August
2011. Although she wasn't able to travel to St. Paul, MN she sent a speech
to be read in her absence.
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© 1999-2011. This page was created on December 2001.