The art of sports choreography: creating memorable halftime shows

Stepping onto the Super Bowl stage, the spotlight beams down, illuminating dancers as they prepare to perform. With millions of eyes watching worldwide, the stakes are high, but so is the adrenaline. The halftime show, a spectacle of music, dance, and theatrics, is a staple of the Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). But how are these unforgettable halftime shows created? Let’s delve into the art of sports choreography and the work that goes into creating these grand performances.

The Allure of Halftime Shows

The Super Bowl, often referred to as the biggest game of the year, is as much about the halftime entertainment as it is about the competition on the field. The halftime show is a chance for artists, musicians, and professional dancers to create memorable performances that captivate the stadium and television audiences alike.

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The Super Bowl halftime show tradition began modestly in the 1960s with university marching bands and high school drill teams taking the field. The spectacle we know today didn’t take shape until 1993 when Michael Jackson took to the stage, opening a window to a new era of entertainment. Since then, it has grown to feature some of the most renowned music and dance artists. Performers like Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Mary J. Blige, and Jennifer Lopez have all graced the Super Bowl halftime show stage, creating performances etched in our collective memory.

Crafting the Choreography

A great Super Bowl halftime show doesn’t just happen. It requires months of planning and intense rehearsal. Professional dancers are enlisted to bring the artist’s vision to life. The choreography must not only suit the style of the artist but also has to work within the constraints of the stadium and the limited time available.

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The choreography begins with envisioning the concept. It’s a collaborative effort where the artist, choreographer, and director brainstorm ideas. The choreographer will then start blocking out the performance, deciding where and when each movement will happen on stage and field.

After the choreography is created, the next step is to cast the dancers. Many dancers that tread the Super Bowl stage come from professional dance agencies, but there’s also an opportunity for local dancers, including those from universities and high schools, to participate. This selection process is often conducted by SAG-AFTRA, a union that represents performers and artists.

Once the dancers are chosen, they start rehearsing. This is a labor-intensive process that requires them to perfect intricate routines, often within a short period. The pressure is immense, but the reward of performing at one of the world’s biggest stages makes it all worthwhile.

Bringing the Show to Life

On the day of the Super Bowl, as the second quarter of the game winds down, there’s a flurry of activity as the stage is quickly assembled on the field. This is a highly choreographed process in itself, with hundreds of people working in sync to transport and set up the stage.

The halftime show typically lasts for about 12 minutes, but its impact can be long-lasting. The performance opens with a bang, the artist making an entrance that instantly grabs attention. This could be Katy Perry on a giant tiger, Bruno Mars on a drum solo or Lady Gaga leaping from the stadium roof.

The artist then performs a medley of their hits, with the professional dancers supplementing the performance with perfectly timed dance routines. Each moment, each movement is designed to be a spectacle, ensuring that the audience remains engaged throughout.


The Super Bowl halftime show is a testament to the power of performance art. From the initial planning stages to the live spectacle, every step is meticulously crafted to create a memorable experience. The collaboration between artists, choreographers, dancers, and technical staff results in a spectacular show that transcends the game itself.

So, the next time you find yourself captivated by a Super Bowl halftime performance, remember the immense work and artistry that goes into creating that magic. For it’s not just the team on the field that wins the game, but also the team behind the scenes that makes the halftime show an event to remember.