For most of my life, Sunday afternoons in winter have meant lacing up my pointe shoes and putting on my game face. No, not for football, but for "the summer intensive." Dancers across the country (and internationally) vie for a coveted spot at a top ballet school. This year, I am not competing for such a spot and finally had time to sit and watch the always-hyped Super Bowl! My fellow dorm-mates watching with me, quickly labeled the low-scoring game as "underwhelming." Perhaps in an effort to justify my time spent in front of the TV, this dancer/writer made an effort to see what was "super" about this year's Super Bowl.
As a student at USC, I was cheering for the Rams! Not only are they an LA-based team, but they play home games at the LA Coliseum, the same venue as our own football team. I will admit it was a painful experience to watch them walk away without even one touchdown; even friends on USC's football team admitted to me that they did not watch the game past half-time.
However, despite everyone's deadpanning of the game, I found joy in watching it from start to finish. I did not do this because I thought the Rams would make a comeback. What I found is that I genuinely enjoy watching football and studying the movements of the players -- there is an athletic grace that can be found in most plays and the moves can be broken down into balletic steps. (In fact, football players see improvements in their game when they take ballet. But that topic is for another article. Stay tuned!) I love it when the slow-mo replays show the positions the body takes -- the height of the jump, the split in the air, the jukes left and right, the balance and agility, and even a lunge to tackle. All such movements appear to embody dancing to me; I loved analyzing the movements and thinking about how the athlete could have moved differently for a more successful play.
Another "super" aspect of the low-scoring Super Bowl game is that defensive plays were given a chance to shine. A friend of mine and member of USC's football team, Solomon Tuliaupupu, relished the game. He said, "Being a linebacker, I actually enjoyed the long drives where the linebackers had to constantly play their assignments correctly or risk letting a big play go." Solomon also explained "a lot of powerful movements on both sides of the ball from both teams." That doesn't sound boring, does it? A high score is not necessarily an indicator of an exciting and skilled game if you change your view. Bringing this back to dance, a soloist or prima (in this game, for example, the prima could be likened to the famous Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) may initially seem to receive all the glory and audience accoladesbut it is the corps de ballet, the dancers in the back that support the cast and allow for the storyline to continue.
How can I continue discussion of the Super Bowl without mention of the ads? Even these, with their nostalgic touches seemed "standard" and "nothing special" to my friends. I, on the other hand, LOVED the dancing. In the Expensify commercial, the viewer is immediately drawn into the bold moves and music, because it was a literal music video featuring Adam Scott and 2 Chainz. As a dancer, I appreciate the incorporation of dance into mainstream media. As seen in this music video ad, the dancers enhance the overall performance and this commercial made it "actually cool" to do your expenses through Expensify. A second example would be the one for the NFL. In the star-studded NFL commercial, I found it so entertaining how all the players moved and turned like a choreographed dance.
Finally, many even gave the halftime show a so-so rating. The NFL played it safe with an apolitical performer in Adam Levine. In these divisive times, I did not mind that. I actually do not think anyone would have received a positive review, given the controversy with support for Colin Kaepernick and several big-name performers declining the opportunity to perform.
In conclusion, although it won't go down as the most riveting game, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. From the game to the commercials to the half-time show, it was an afternoon of PERFORMANCES -- not too different from a dancer having to perform in front of a critical audience. Sometimes you won't win over your critics right away, but longevity and perseverance onstage will bring respect. I will definitely watch again next year to see which coaches and players have the grit to be there for the curtain call.