More than 70 students from the University of Miami Frost Band of the Hour were already missing classes at the beginning of the spring semester but not because they were sleeping in. They were at rehearsals for the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show.
The rehearsals with artists Jennifer Lopez and Shakira took careful coordination, says Jay Rees, director of athletic bands. “I felt like it was football season again,” he says.
Though they didn’t play their instruments or spin equipment, band and guard members plus individuals from the Hurricanettes dance team were cast members and featured dancers in the halftime show. After seeing the students’ work ethic and rehearsal etiquette, the producers of the show asked some of them to perform as part of the pregame show, Rees says. They unfurled the giant American flag while Demi Lovato sang the national anthem.
Rees says that he relies on student leaders to help foster a focused, positive, and productive environment in the band’s rehearsals.
In addition, the Miami Marching Band participated in other Super Bowl events where they did perform in more traditional ways. The drumline played at “Super Bowl Opening Night” on Jan. 27 when the players and coaches appeared before media and fans. Then on Feb. 1, members of the pep band played on the red carpet as guests arrived at the “NFL Honors” award show, hosted by Steve Harvey.
“We think of the Super Bowl as a football game, but it’s actually a series of events over a whole week,” Rees says.
Until the halftime show ended, the students were bound under a confidentiality agreement. They couldn’t talk or post about the details of the Latin-influenced show until after it was over.
“[The students] loved it,” Rees says. “It was a lot of work, but they understood it was worth it to be a part of something that was so unique.”