This February marked the 57th Super Bowl, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles going head-to-head for about three and a half hours. The game was broken up by the annual halftime show, one of the largest televised musical performances in history.
The artist with the honor of presenting the game this year was R&B artist Rihanna, a music industry icon who is known to have thrilling performance numbers with her dance skills. The Grammy Award winner showcased her skills on the field along with nearly 300 backup dancers, with some joining her on her elevated platforms, and others on the field below.
While dancers on the platforms were handpicked professionals from Los Angeles, those on the field were local dancers from throughout Phoenix who got the chance to perform in this event, with many being students with dance majors at Arizona State University.
“The director of the dance department of Arizona State sent out the link to us students allowing us to audition,” said ASU student Eliana Bracamonte.
The opportunity to have their students participate in the dance community around them was important to the dance program at the university, so professors made sure to let their students know about the audition process.
The process itself held students to a high standard and made sure those participating would be able to handle themselves accordingly. Each dancer was expected to be able to remember and perform about 20 seconds of choreography.
“ The audition process… was a call for dancers within the Phoenix area,” Bracamonte said. “We basically had to learn choreography from a video and submitted an audition video doing the choreography.”
Bracamonte was selected to be a field dancer along with 200 other Phoenix residents. Once the audition process was done, the six to eight-hour rehearsals for the actual performances began soon afterward.
“We pretty much ran it as if it was the game day,” said Bracamonte, when talking about how rehearsals went for the dancers. “It felt very intimate because there was no audience… just stage crew, dancers, and Rihanna.”
Rehearsals for the performance ran for about two weeks before the debut of the halftime show and were run by Emmy Award-winning choreographer Parris Goebel.
While the field dancers themselves were unable to meet Rihanna, some found satisfaction in simply knowing she would be learning choreography with them at the same time.
“Nothing will compare to the feeling of basically having a private concert while also dancing for the bad gal Riri,” Bracamontee said .
While the 80 dancers from Los Angeles were there for the entire duration of the show, those who auditioned danced onto the field in their puffy, white costumes when Rihanna’s hit song “All of the Lights” began playing, and continued to dance for the rest of the 15-minute halftime show.
Presenting this opportunity to students is something that could be incredibly beneficial for them as it is dancing on one of the biggest stages on the entire planet.
“This is definitely something I will be putting on my resume that I think will definitely peak interest for other professional opportunities I plan to audition for!” Bracamontee said with a smile.