Kiwi dancer Lance Savali on overcoming pressure to nail Super Bowl Halftime routine of a lifetime

Nail an intense dance routine. Lift a global superstar into the air. Catch a tossed microphone from metres away….these are all requirements that would send shivers down the spine of most performers. 

But Kiwi dancer Lance Savali says a sense of calm swept over him ahead of performing on one of the world's most-watched stages. 

"You hear the crowd roar and you are instantly filled with energy, no matter how exhausted your body is," he told Newshub. 

"I found myself thinking; 'This is weird, I'm so chill, yet I'm about to perform in front of my biggest crowd so far'." 

Savali is one of the famed local dance crew, who performed with Jennifer Lopez at her halftime show at the Super Bowl in Miami on Sunday (local time). 

Savali pictured on stage with Lopez at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami on Sunday night (local time).
Savali pictured on stage with Lopez at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami on Sunday night (local time). Photo credit: Getty Images.

Over 70,000 spectators filled the stadium, with 100 million more watching on televisions around the world - no pressure. 

Kiwi choreography mastermind Parris Goebel was behind every move, with a number of local dancers in the mix from start to finish. 

"[Goebel] is a perfectionist, so she keeps working at us till she is happy," Savali explained. "J-Lo works hard so we have to back her also." 

Savali says his motivation comes from his family and friends rooting for him back home, as well as the other dancers on stage. 

"Seeing the excitement in each other's faces is a feeling you will never get used to," he said.

"I give it up to every dancer who made it through this process, as I know it was not easy. But that's all part of it because on the day, when you step off-stage and watch what we have achieved, it's all worth it." 

Savali pictured dancing with Lopez (left) and Rhianna live at San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy in 2016.
Savali pictured dancing with Lopez (left) and Rhianna live at San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy in 2016. Photo credit: Getty Images.

While it might seem like the synchronised dance routine is the toughest part of the show, for Savali the pressure was on when it came to handling perhaps the most important bit of equipment: Lopez's diamond-encrusted microphone.

But he managed to effortlessly catch her lob of the mic from centre stage a little over 13 minutes into their show. 

"I more so get excited that things are at risk and could go wrong, but I love those challenges - it excites me more than anything," he says. 

"It gives me a chance to step up to the challenge and conquer, which we did." 

And if you're hoping to hear stories on Lopez being a diva, you're not in luck. Savali says the global pop icon is both humble and hardworking. 

"She is very invested in what's at hand and I love that. I feed off energy like that, it shows that she cares about us and her performance just as much as we do." 

 

The professional dancer standing at Staples Center ahead of a show with Chris Brown.
The professional dancer standing at Staples Center ahead of a show with Chris Brown. Photo credit: Instagram / @lancesavali

Savali moved to Auckland at 17 to unite with New Zealand's top crews, and made his break for the big time in 2014, hopping on a plane bound for LA after hearing word Chris Brown was holding auditions for an upcoming showcase. 

After making the crew, he's since toured with the Forever singer around the world, a gig that opened doors to work with Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Ariana Grande.

He says rehearsals for his Super Bowl moment were tough, requiring months of hard days and long hours. 

"Dancing isn't like a sport where we train for a couple of hours every day, it's a physical 8-12 hour day every day of the week leading up to huge shows like this, so for me or anyone to be prepared and show-ready is a hard task in itself it's hard work." 

But, he says, it all pays off once you step on stage.

"I am truly blessed and want to thank Parris and the creative team for making this possible." 

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