As reported by Page Six, these performers are done with trading “free” time and skills for “exposure”– and their complaints come ahead of Dr. Dre’s star-studded Super Bowl Halftime show featuring Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar.
Here’s more from the outlet:
Page Six has obtained copies of the alleged requests that went out to professional dancers — many of whom have years of experience — asking for “predominantly African American movers” to “volunteer” for halftime. The alleged screenshots from various recruiters and LA’s Bloc Talent Agency reveal that those volunteering are expected to attend mandatory rehearsals for up to nine hours a day, with no transportation provided. ‘
“It’s not uncommon that the Super Bowl brings forth field local volunteers to be concertgoers for the Super Bowl experience just to deepen the production quality and value and the attention,” Taja Riley — who performed at halftime with Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Coldplay in 2016 and with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira in 2020 — told Page Six (watch her interview via the player above).
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“These are things that are pretty common in the industry, but what is not common is a coordinator or production or producer reaching out to professional talent to hire them as volunteers and working them for the amount of time that they are requesting.”
Melany Centeno, who has danced professionally for over a decade, was contacted by the volunteer gig but turned it down.
“My immediate response was no, I’ll never dance for Super Bowl for free … they have money to pay people. And I don’t know why they would sit here and front like nine days of rehearsal is needed for people to just file into a stadium. That’s a lot, they’re lying,” she told Page Six.
“It’s just like, you guys want to go into the antics about this, and try to find some type of loophole to justify what this is. But this is, at the root, exploitation,” she continued. “It’s coming to light that in the past when the Super Bowl has done this, that these [field] people end up dancing.”
Meanwhile, this year’s halftime choreographer, Fatima Robinson revealed via Instagram that she is “happy to be hiring 115 paid dancers for the Super Bowl this year…..the most ever hired.”
Both Riley and Centeno alleged that Robinson is known for hiring dancers who will work for free. Riley told Page Six that Robinson blocked her when she reached out to discuss this year’s halftime show.
“This is such an amazing Super Bowl, to be happening during Black History Month and to showcase black art, black culture and predominantly highlighting black talent … so if you’re going to be a leader of a community, now is the time, if anything, to step up and be called in, to do whatever it is that you can do to forward the movement,” Riley advised.
“We’re at a space where we are being overexploited as dance art is being overused, overworked and then undervalued and underpaid. I think the next step really is who will stand up like, how loud do we have to get … to bring more awareness to the mistreatment of dance artists,” she continued. “We should be raising the bar now and holding ourselves accountable, especially when we’ve accepted these oppressive ways and practices for so long.”
Centeno co-signed, telling Page Six, “I think in general the dance industry has just come to this place where we’re just sick and tired of a lot of this. Because it’s not just people asking us to dance for free — it’s also these rates [for dancers] haven’t changed in 20 years.”
Roc Nation responded in the following statement to Page Six:
“As Executive Producers of the Halftime Show, we know firsthand the level of passion, talent, creativity, and long days of preparation it takes to pull off a performance of this caliber and so it’s important that we address the current narrative. We completely agree that all dancers should be compensated for their craft and that is why we are employing the 115 professional dancers performing alongside the headliners.
The professional dancers are completely separate from the volunteer-based, non-choreographed field cast. As in years past, it is completely up to the volunteer candidates to participate. No one working with this show contacted an agency to request professional dancers to volunteer. Lastly, we strictly follow and adhere to all SAG-AFTRA guidelines.”
Super Bowl LVI kicks off Sunday, Feb. 13, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.