By Marlen Garcia
INDIANAPOLIS — Bailie Key has such a serious disposition that Martha Karolyi, the always-serious U.S. women’s national team coordinator, once encouraged her to lighten up.
It was at one of Key’s first visits to a national training camp and she was about 12, her coach, Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, recalled Wednesday after podium training for the P&G Gymnastics Championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“Martha went up to her, put her hands on her shoulders and said, ‘You can smile a little,’” Zmeskal-Burdette said.
But it was just a matter of bringing out Key’s expressive side. Key said she is conveying more emotion in a floor routine in which she goes from being a circus performer to ringmaster to music from Cirque du Soleil. Zmeskal-Burdette and coach Dominic Zito choreographed it.
“I’ve gone through a lot of different styles of routines but this is my favorite one,” Key said. “I love to compete it.”
Fans will see it Thursday in Key’s first senior national meet. She won a junior all-around title two years ago.
Zmeskal-Burdette said she has become a bigger fan of dance over the years and has tried to recognize, “what is it about watching something like that, that can bring such real emotion from people in such a snippet?”
When it comes to artistry, Key believes she is on the right path.
That expressiveness is “honestly something she had to pull out of me,” Key said. “I’ve never been one to smile in my floor routine. I’m slowly getting there. I have fun in this routine.”