Photo By: Raul Kling

Photo By: Raul Kling

Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics is a non-profit organization and is an affiliated member of Gymnastics Ontario and Gymnastics Canada. Having been founded in 1951, it is the oldest and largest school of Rhythmic Gymnastics in Canada. With a lasting and prestigious legacy, Kalev is directly affiliated with multiple contributions to the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics both nationally and internationally. 


Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics Centres offers a wide variety of rhythmic gymnastics training for all ages. With developmental programs for young children (4-6 years) and children (7-9 years), as well as programs for young teens (10-12 years) and teens (13 and up), we train youth of various groups based off age and ability. 

Participants develop balance, flexibility, coordination, and motor skill strength in a fun and stimulating environment. 

The Beginner Program is ideally suited for those who want an introduction to Rhythmic Gymnastics. Participants develop body technique, skills with rhythmic movements, and learn to handle the apparatus (ball, hoop, ribbon, rope, and clubs). 

The Advanced Level demands a higher level of skill. This is suitable for those with a higher degree of flexibility and previous gymnastics experience. 

Our Select Program requires a greater time commitment from both gymnasts and parents. Gymnastics previously in the Advanced Program may enter the Select Program with the coach's recommendation. Those with a real ability for the sport can be tested to enter this level. With ambition and skills, a gymnast can try out for the Pan Am Games, the Common Wealth Games, the World Cups, the World Championships, and the future Olympics. 




Rhythmic gymnastics is a beautiful Olympic sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, acrobatics, flexibility, and apparatus. With individuals and groups competing and performing utilizing grace, skill, strength, agility, and fluidity, Rhythmic Gymnastics is the epitome of poetry in motion. 


There are four main apparatus that are used in Rhythmic Gymnastics: the ball, the clubs, the ribbon, the hoop, and the rope. Gymnasts can compete or perform using one or all of these elements, or they can choose to compute or perform Free (with no apparatus at all). 


The choreography for Rhythmic Gymnastics is made up of a collection of elements including:  leaps, balances, rolls, pivots, flexibility poses, and dance movements, all performed in fluid, continual motion. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill so rhythmic gymnasts enjoy a high level of physical fitness. 


The sport is governed by the Federation International Gymnastics (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition.


The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, World Cup, and Grand-Prix Series. Rhythmic gymnasts may also participate in non-competitive events that are high level team disciplines, such as Provincial, National, and World Gymnaestrada.


AsModern rhythmic gymnastics began as a non-competitive sport in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and originally emerged as a criticism of the gymnastics of the time, which did not distinguish between gymnastics for men and for women. It may, however, be regarded as a movement specifically aimed at women's physical fitness, because it was developed on the basis of their biological and physiological characteristics. But over time, it has also had an impact on men's gymnastics by modernizing and reforming it. 

By 1920, Rhythmic gymnastics was practiced in many countries. In 1962 it was recognized as an international sport by FIG and the first World Championships were held in Budapest the following year with 28 contestants from nine European countries



Many people contributed to the development of the sport, the origins of which stretch back to ancient Greece.  Jean Jacques Rousseau and Johann Guts-Muths (the grandfathers of gymnastics) expanded the idea of the sport in the eighteenth century, Jean George Noverre was an advocate of the expression of art through the 1700's and acted as one by advocating the expression of art through movement,  and Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish exercise developer, promoted "aesthetic gymnastics". 

During the last years of the 19th century, George Demeney (1850 -1917), a French physiologist, began to take an interest in the problems of physical culture. After thoroughly studying the current systems of gymnastics, particularly the Swedish, he came to the conclusion that it was not built upon a sufficiently scientific foundation and that its movements were unnatural and static. He created various exercises to music that were designed to promote grace of movement, muscular flexibility, and good posture.

Emile Jacques Dalcroze (1865 - 1950), teacher of music at the Geneva Conservatory, followed with his "eurhythmics", which in his opinion, was absolutely necessary for the preparation of musicians as well as for dancers and other artists.

Elli Björksten (1870 - 1947) incorporated Dalcroze's eurhythmics and Demeney's achievements into the Swedish schools. The Finnish movement of gymnastics for women was influenced by these new trends and Hilma Jalkanen(1889 - 1964), building on the work of Elli Björksten, incorporated dance elements and expressive movements into a new Finnish school of gymnastics.

Rudolf von Laban (1879) and Marie Wigmann (1888), are other important names to mention on the road to the creation of Rhythmic Gymnastics. But above all is the famous dancer Isadora Duncan, whose rebellion against the dogmas of the classical ballet changed the direction of development of both the art and the sport.

In Germany, Rudolf Bode (b. 1881 - 1970) produced some valuable additions to the women's gymnastics in the form of body waves and expressive body movements, and Heinrich Medau introduced hand apparatus (ball, ropes and tambourines) and in 1929 established a school in Berlin to train the new leaders of what he called "modern gymnastics".

This term was officially recognized in 1951 and the World Modern Gymnastics Federation was established. After World War II, scoring methods, based partly on Idla's degree of difficulty tables, were developed in Europe to create the competitive form of rhythmic gymnastics, which was recognized as a sport by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 1962. FIG changed the official name to "Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics" in 1973, to "Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastics" in 1977, simplified to "Rhythmic Gymnastics" in 1998.



Rhythmic gymnastics in Canada simply would't exist if it weren't for the efforts of Evelyn Koop. Known as "The Godmother" of the sport in Canada, Evelyn is recognized as being the one who actually brought the sport to North America and fostered its growth nation wide. 

Evelyn Koop founded Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics Centres and has been working hard ever since to build its legacy as one of Canada's most prominent Rhythmic Gymnastics Centres. Having taught Rhythmic Gymnastics at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, McGill University, she is considered a foremost authority on the sport. She has also written books about the sport itself, has created instruction manuals on how to judge it, and has even developed technical manuscripts, by-laws, and constitutions around it.  

Evelyn Koop has been honoured with:

  • The Governor General's Award (1968)
  • Government of Ontario Achievement Award (1971), (1972), (1974)
  • Ontario Place Award (1972
  • Finland's Women's Sports Awards (1974)
  • The Queen Elizabeth 25th Jubilee Award (1977)
  • Air Canada Sports Executive of the Year award (1977)
  • The FIG Medal for Achievement from China (1978)
  • Gymnastics Ontario Life Member (1980)
  • Gymnastics Canada Life Member (1982
  • Gymnastics Ontario Key Builder Award (1991)
  • The FIG Honorary Diploma (1998)
  • Sports Federation Award (1998)
  • Gymnastics Canada Rhythmic Gymnastics Program Awards (2006)
    Since renamed the 'Evelyn Koop Rhythmic Gymnastics Program Award' 
  • A Presidential award from Estonia (2007)
  • Ontario Government Volunteer Service Award (2007)
  • The Russian Federation Award (2008).
Image of Kalev founder Evelyn Koop, taken by Shelley A. Hassard


  • The first Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team (1971) consisted of Kalev members Connie Lindenberger, Melanie Ivey and Susanne Mihkelson. 
  • The use of ribbon grew out of China! 
  • Rhythmic gymnastics was original for both men and women.