Holy Angels dance makes repeat appearance at Super Bowl  

| February 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Shannon Ross couldn’t believe the email she received in late 2017 with an invitation for her high school dance team to perform at halftime for the Super Bowl.

“It was from the casting director. She had asked if we wanted to perform, and I thought it was a joke,” said Ross, the dance coach for Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

After looking up the director to learn more, Ross informed her team of the opportunity via a conference call before Christmas break. Ross said they, too, were in disbelief at first, until it sunk in.

“They were all excited and screaming on the phone,” Ross said.

Academy of Holy Angels’ dance team performed for the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 for the second time in its history. Courtesy Shannon Ross

Jaila Robinson, a junior on the team, said she was, “really excited because that’s something people don’t initially get to do. It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Holy Angels performed for halftime at the 1992 Super Bowl, also in Minneapolis, at the Metrodome — a show casted primarily by homegrown talent. This time, the Starliners got to perform among other high school dance teams with Justin Timberlake.

“It was so incredible. The energy was just so high. Everyone was having fun with each other,” Robinson said about the performance. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

She also didn’t find it too nerve-wracking to perform in front of more than 67,000 at U.S. Bank Stadium and for a worldwide TV audience Feb. 4.

“At first, I was nervous, but then I realized that we’ve been practicing for a few weeks, so I have nothing to worry about,” Robinson said. “I just had high energy when I was out there, which just made me less nervous.”

Holy Angels participated in the opening and closing numbers of the halftime show. The Starliners danced among a sea of high school dancers from other schools surrounding the stage in the early part of the show.

“They were kind of like the fans at the concert,” Ross said.

The dance teams then came out again in bright-colored costumes and spread around the field, performing a hip-hop style dance for the closing numbers. The teams received a video to learn the choreography in time for the first January rehearsal.

“[The] choreography is a little bit different than what we’re typically used to,” Ross said. “Dance team is more based on precision, and everything has to look the same, where[as] this choreography is a little bit more relaxed, and it was more about having fun.”

Initially, Robinson found the transition easier because she watches dance videos in her free time. But she said it became challenging when more moves were added to the routine. Having six to seven dance rehearsals in addition to the Starliners schedule and school challenged her and the team, too.

“It was really hard to do both of them, for me,” Robinson said.

Holy Angels had the only Catholic school dance team for the show. Public school teams drew mostly from larger suburban high schools such as Farmington and Maple Grove.

“It’s definitely a big honor to be the only Catholic school,” said Ross, who added that, being one of two smaller schools to perform, is unaware of how the teams were chosen.

Holy Angels has been successful in dance competitions with 36 state tournament appearances between jazz and high kick. However, Ross noted that some of the schools chosen for the halftime show don’t have teams going to state.

“They [the Starliners] felt very lucky about that,” Ross said about the Super Bowl halftime show. “I think it meant a lot to the school, too.”

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