Behind the Curtain: I Danced in the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent

Rock Cellar Magazine

Super Bowl Weekend is one of the most popular television events of the year, essentially an unofficial national holiday. The annual championship game between the National Football League’s top two teams, it’s more than a sporting event — it’s arguably the pinnacle of the pop culture world. An intersection of sports, entertainment (including the commercials, which are an event all their own) and music, the Super Bowl is a Big Deal in capital letters.

The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show has long been just as big a part of the day as the game itself, legends taking the stage for larger-than-life performances that span generations and styles while also bringing together the best in dancing and choreography.

This past Feb. 13, the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles featured a wild performance from hip-hop icons Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, with Anderson .Paak and his band providing the rhythms and 50 Cent showing up as a surprise guest. The performance (which you can view in full by clicking here) featured an incredible stage construction depicting landmarks from nearby Compton and a large team of dancers working in sync to accentuate the excitement on the field.

Below, one of those dancers reflects on her experience in the Super Bowl Halftime Show and shines a bit of light on the behind-the-scenes machinations of such a massive event.

Rock Cellar: What’s your name, and did you have fun in the Super Bowl Halftime Show?

Presley Hawk: My name is Presley Hawk, and I had the best time of my life in the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Rock Cellar: How did you get involved with this? 

Presley Hawk: My dance college contacted me and some of my dancer alumni from my school. They basically asked us to volunteer to be a part of this production. We knew it was going to be a great experience and something to put on our resumes, so we decided to take it.

Rock Cellar: What was the practice schedule like? Based on how elaborate the stage and everything looked during the show, it must have been intense. 

Presley Hawk: Oh, yeah. We met at a high school and practiced there first. They rolled out the mats that you saw on stage with the lights, the ones that kind of looked like streets. We were given places and spots, they moved around a lot during rehearsals. So we started at a high school and eventually started getting paid, which was great.

We started meeting at SoFi Stadium right after that first day at the high school. We were there at SoFi from around 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. each night. There was a lot of holding and waiting, changes — a lot of changes throughout the experience. But ultimately everyone was on top of their game.

Also, it was really cool being with the artists every day.

Rock Cellar: That was my next question. I almost assumed the talent wouldn’t be around until the actual Super Bowl day on Sunday, but it sounds like they were there a lot during rehearsals?

Presley Hawk: Yeah, they were there for basically the majority of the time that we were there. Everyone that you saw on stage was there, either the whole time or about half the time we were there. We weren’t able to see them until we got to the rehearsal space or on the field, but when we did see them it was for like three hours straight.

Rock Cellar: Was it kind of like how a music video shoot works?

Presley Hawk: Yeah. There was a day where we filmed a take where we did everything we were going to do on show day, just in case the system went down or anything like that. We pre-recorded a whole performance. There was one part we added the day before, Dr. Dre playing the piano.

Rock Cellar: There are some videos online from folks in the stands catching the crews loading all of the stage parts onto the field, and it’s a very impressive and super quick production.

Presley Hawk: Yeah, I would say that took the majority of the time. We were maybe on the field performing for those 12 minutes, maybe we did it twice in a row. But most of the days we would practice taking them off, pushing them on, it was a two or three-hour experience.

Rock Cellar: And with the dancing, it’s so much movement, everybody moving around at the same time. A lot of moving parts. 

Presley Hawk: I want to say there were 200, maybe 300 people moving those props on the first few days were at SoFi. It got less and less as the days went on so [that aspect of the performance] wasn’t so super crowded on game day, but I’d guess there were maybe 1,000 or 2,000 people there in total, for the whole experience.

Rock Cellar: Where were you and the dance crew for the Super Bowl game itself?

Presley Hawk: Oh, we left. We came in for the Halftime Show, we met at USC and shuttled over, they shuttled us back to USC and we went home.

Rock Cellar: Very interesting, the whole thing. Looking back on it, what would you say was the most surprising part of your whole experience?

Presley Hawk: How much the artists were there, that was the most shocking thing to me. Sometimes they would have stand-ins after they did two full runs, I think to save their voice since everything was live the whole time.

But they would actually practice and give their all, and they made notes and gave us notes and were very appreciative of everyone who was a part of the experience. And they let us know that, too.

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