This weekend is what many would consider an American holiday. Super Bowl LII is here, an event that has something for everyone. For most it is about the fierce competition between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Others love it because of all the delicious, classic tailgate food. Then there is my group of Super Bowl viewers, those there for the real MVP’s, the performers. Not only are the players feeling the pressure to deliver this Sunday, but so are the cheerleaders and the halftime performers. Just like the NFL players, NFL cheerleaders dream of being on the big stage that is the field at the Super Bowl. On average, 111 million people are tuned into the Super Bowl each February. During the highly anticipated 15 minute half time performance over 118.5 million people are glued to their televisions! I had the opportunity to talk to two incredibly talented dancers about their grid iron experiences. Lindsey, an NFL cheerleader who loves the thrill of game day. And Ryan, who had the opportunity to perform in the infamous halftime show performance with Katy Perry! Check out what they had to say and their advice for younger dancers below.
What age did you start dancing?: 3
What is your favorite style of dance?: Contemporary and Musical Theater
What is your favorite thing about being an NFL cheerleader?: I absolutely love game day, there is no bigger thrill, but the true gratification of being an NFL cheerleader is giving back to the community through charity events and community appearances. I didn’t realize before making the team how big of an impact the appearances would have on me, but it is so rewarding to use my role in a selfless way to help around the community and to bring positivity into peoples lives.
What is the biggest difference between dance and professional cheering?: As an NFL cheerleader there is still the audience, the bonds you make with your team (cast), and all the hard work you put into your craft, but I would say the biggest difference is that it really is a bigger platform for your talent, not just dance wise, but as a strong female in the community and an ambassador for a huge brand.
Do you have advice for dancers aspiring to cheer for an NFL team?: When it comes to the audition process, never give up, dance hard, SMILE, and really put the best version of yourself out there. Beyond dancing there usually is an interview, physical fitness test, football test, and a mock photo shoot at these auditions, so remember that it is so much more than a dance call. The coach is looking for the best woman to be an ambassador for their team, which requires much more than great dance technique and stellar performance quality. You really need to be your best, speak well, and push hard to stand out in the sea of talented beauties fighting for a spot on the team. If you hear “no”, try again next season. Sometimes it is all about timing!
Anything else you’d like to add?: I’ve had the privilege of having a professional dance career for a decade before my career as a cheerleader began and I must say that no other venue has been as exciting and rewarding in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong, we work extremely hard, but if you are a dancer who happens to enjoy football, it truly is an experience of a lifetime.
What age did you start dancing? 4
What is your favorite style of dance? It alternates between hip hop and contemporary depending on my mood 🙂
What was it like performing at the super bowl half time show?!:Performing at the Super Bowl half time show was honestly a dream come true and definitely an experience that I will never forget. I have performed in front of many crowds in my career, but nothing will ever compare to the crowd during the Super Bowl. The main thing I recollect is the in numerous amount of energy in that stadium. My whole body felt as if it was being pumped with electricity and I remember standing in awe on the sidelines during the last song (that I was not performing in) and just crying with goosebumps all over my skin. In that moment I felt so grateful and so alive. I’ve had many goals and aspirations for myself in my career, but performing at the Super Bowl was never one I truly considered attainable. It also was extremely inspiring to see all of the different departments come together to try and make the most spectacular 15-minute show possible. I don’t think people realize sometimes how many hours of hard work go into making something like that! I learned a lot being able to observe people who are truly masters at their craft from the choreographers (Nick Florez and RJ Durell), to the costume designer (Marina Toybina), to Katy Perry herself. In the end everyone came together with one specific goal, to make the Super Bowl XLIX half time show one to remember!
Do you have advice for aspiring professional dancers?: If I were to give any advice to aspiring professional dancers it would be to stay passionate. The industry tries to knock you down more than it picks you up and without passion this can lead to hesitation and doubt. If you truly love to dance and know in your heart that you are supposed to be sharing your gift with others, no one can convince you otherwise. This is something that you have to consciously choose to find and believe, because in the end, we are all human with our own insecurities and want to feel accepted and appreciated. Staying creative whether it’s painting, going to museums, choreographing or freestyling with friends are all things that have helped me fuel my passion and keep it going at times when it gets difficult. I think that it also is important to have a healthy balance between focusing on your career and focusing on your personal life. You have to train hard and focus on your goals if you want to reach your dreams but you also need to step outside of the dance world to get re-energized, re inspired and have some fun outside of work every now and then.
Anything else you’d like to add?: You have nothing to prove but everything to share.
Weather they’re cheerleaders on the sideline pumping up the crowd, performers in the half time show highlighting the spectacular musical artist, or dancing in a commercial for the latest product, dancers light up Super Bowl Sunday. Something that anyone can appreciate is how watching dance makes them feel something. I think it’s safe to say that without dancers the Super Bowl, and football in general, wouldn’t be the same.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! Let us know your favorite part of the halftime show!
Special thank you to Lindsey and Ryan for taking the time to be part of our Turn It Up Dance Challenge Blog!