What distinguishes top gymnasts like these from everyone else, including dancers, is the power and fearless aplomb with which they dispatch--and recover from--their gravity defying gymnastics maneuvers. It annoys me no end that they have been expected to incorporate into their routines material in which they'll likely never look better than second rate (through no fault of their own, I hasten to add) -- especially because I can't get over the suspicion that the music and the dancey bits were imposed to make the sport seem more "ladylike."
I agree, I think the 'artistic' bits were a concession to the fundamental distrust that people seemed to have about women participating in sports.
True. "People" includes women as well, of course. I've read another article lamenting the decline of "artistry" in gymnastics and like the Slate piece it was written by a woman. Figure skating and women's gymnastics attract a predominantly female audience and they are both sports which tend to reflect traditional expectations regarding how women should look and move. (They're also sports in which the women's events are the marquee events - unusual. Probably not a coincidence.)