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Graceful Girls: A Captivating Journey into the World of Competitive Calisthenics

Graceful Girls delves into the world of competitive calisthenics, a uniquely Australian sport combining dance, gymnastics, and ballet.

Keywords: competitive calisthenics, Australian sports, dance, gymnastics, ballet, amateur athletics. Three words: 'Graceful', 'Dedicated', 'Competitive'.


Graceful Girls, directed by Olivia Peniston-Bird and released in 2015, delves into the world of competitive calisthenics, a uniquely Australian sport that combines dance, gymnastics, and ballet. The documentary explores the passion, dedication, and challenges faced by the participants in a sport that has remained largely under the radar, despite its deep-rooted history in the country.


The documentary follows the journey of the 'Graceful Girls' as they prepare for the Most Graceful Girl competition, the pinnacle of this unique sport. Amid the sequins and glitter, the film reveals the intensive training, physical strength, and emotional resilience required to compete at this level.

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Graceful Girls takes a participatory approach, with the director herself being a former participant in the sport. The research is meticulous, giving viewers a comprehensive understanding of the sport's history, rules, and cultural significance. The presentation style is engaging, with the film seamlessly switching between intense training scenes and intimate interviews.

Historical and Factual Context


Calisthenics is a sport that originated in the early 19th century as a form of exercise but has since evolved into a unique blend of dance, gymnastics, and ballet in Australia. The sport is predominantly female, and competitions are held across the country.

Key themes in the film

  • The pursuit of perfection: The documentary explores the relentless pursuit of perfection in competitive calisthenics.
  • Community and camaraderie: Despite the intense competition, the film showcases the strong sense of community and camaraderie in the sport.
  • The unrecognized dedication of amateur athletes: The documentary highlights the incredible dedication of these athletes, who juggle their sport with work and other commitments.

Film Comparisons

While other sports documentaries on iWonder focus on mainstream sports like soccer or basketball, Graceful Girls stands out for shedding light on a lesser-known sport, offering a fresh perspective on the world of competitive athletics.

Noteworthy Moments

One of the most significant moments in the film is the final competition, where the tension, excitement, and emotional investment of the athletes are palpable.


Graceful Girls was well-received by audiences and critics alike, with critics praising the film's insightful exploration of a unique sport. "A fascinating and insightful look at a world I knew nothing about," said one viewer.


Graceful Girls is a must-watch for sports enthusiasts and those interested in dance and gymnastics. It offers a unique glimpse into the world of competitive calisthenics, highlighting the dedication, passion, and community spirit of the athletes.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.6
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: Not available
  • Metacritic score: Not available
  • Film Festival Awards: 1 win



  • Olivia Peniston-Bird: Director and former calisthenics competitor
  • Participants: A diverse group of athletes who share their personal stories and experiences in the sport



  • Competition venues across Australia
  • Training facilities where the participants prepare for the competitions

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  • What drives these athletes to dedicate so much time and effort to a sport that receives little recognition?
  • How does the sport impact the lives of its participants outside of competition?
  • What role does community play in competitive calisthenics?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be 'A Beautiful Work In Progress' by Mirna Valerio - It's about dedication, growth, and pushing beyond limits, just like the athletes in the film.
  2. A famous song, it would be 'Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor - The song's message of determination and overcoming challenges resonates with the film's theme.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be Degas's 'Dance Class' - The painting captures the elegance and dedication of dancers, much like the documentary.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Simone Biles - Just like Biles, the athletes in the film showcase immense dedication, strength, and grace in their sport.
  5. A colour, it would be Gold - It represents the pursuit of excellence and the glittering costumes of the athletes.
  6. A music style, it would be Classical - The sport's elegance and precision are reminiscent of classical music.