MIAMI, FL - Eleven girls with “Millburn Dance Company” jackets walked through the Miami airport and came across an old black and white photo of young women walking across the football field hand-in-hand with a sign reading “Orange Bowl 1978.” From that moment we knew that finally, our Orange Bowl experience had begun...
6:30 p.m., Tuesday (three days before the Orange Bowl): Mandy Moore (emmy award-winning choreographer) welcomed us with open arms- literally- as we ran into the convention center. Our first rehearsal for the Orange Bowl was both nerve-racking and exciting. We were put in vertical lines taught transitions into each song.
8 a.m., Wednesday (two days before the Orange Bowl): Not only were we invited to perform in the Orange Bowl halftime show taught by So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Mandy Moore but, we had a full day of convention classes. These classes were taught by some of the biggest names in the dance world including: So You Think You Can Dance season 6 winner Lauren Froderman and So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Stacey Tookey as well as teachers from the world-renowned Broadway Dance Center in New York City.
“The Orange Bowl was an amazing experience I will never forget. It was a great opportunity to learn from my favorite choreographers,” exclaimed Danielle Rieder after a long day of classes.
8.a.m., Thursday (one day before the Orange Bowl): Usually I would dread to do anything straight for eight hours, but dance is an exception. All four-hundred-and-eighty dancers filed into the convention center ready to begin an eight hour practice to finish the dance and make it look as uniform as possible. Mandy Moore filled the long day with jokes and laughs. It was surprisingly enjoyable.
Captain of the company, Bradley Bunn, recounts her experience, “When I joined the MHS Dance Company, I never imagined i'd be dancing alongside dancers from all across the country in front of such a huge audience. Our trip was also a great sneak peek into the real dance world: eight hour rehearsals, last-minute changes in choreography, and also working with incredible people. these memories will truly last me a lifetime, and I’m so glad i got to share the experience with some of my best friends.”
7:45 a.m., Friday: The “big day.” All of the dancers boarded buses to nearby outdoor football field where we rehearsed the dance, our entrance and our exit. We were bussed back to our hotel for lunch. We then had time to do our makeup and hair and for any last-minute rehearsals with our peers. In the late afternoon we boarded busses to Sun Life Stadium. My team and I anxiously waited for the game to start. The orange seats of Sun Life slowly started to turn colors as people poured into the stadium. The Ohio State and Clemson marching bands performed. The 2012 winner of "The Voice" sang The Star Spangled Banner. Alumni players were inducted into the college football hall of fame. Cheerleaders from both teams tumbled across the field… and finally kickoff! The rest of that night seemed completely surreal.
"Performing at orange bowl halftime show is one of those moments that makes you realize why you started dance in the first place," said senior Ali Cohen.
At about fifteen minutes until halftime, all of the dancers, including myself, were called down to assemble at the entrance to the field. The lights flashed. We ran through the tunnel. We weaved through the marching band and we ran onto the field. The jumbotron played a montage of Dierks Bentley’s various songs and performances and then the countdown started… (although, at the time, we had no idea what we were counting down to). Sparks shot up into the sky and Dierks Bentley and his band were illuminated.
Its funny how three, three-and-a-half-minute songs can feel like five seconds. Everywhere I looked there was a blur of silver and pink. Adrenaline swept over me and, for the first time, I didn’t mess up the dance. After the music stopped and the crowd cheered I looked to my friends and said, "We actually did it. We are actually here."
I am so proud of the Millburn Dance Company for having an awesome performance in the halftime show and for being the only school representing New Jersey among the 40 other schools and studios selected.
Mr. Arjona, artistic director and choreographer of the MHS Dance Company, happily stated: “This Orange Bowl experience is one of the events that made my career as a dance educator. To get to see my dancers represent Millburn and have a positive experience, is priceless”.
If you wish to see the performance of the MHS Dance Company you can search "Orange Bowl Halftime Show 2014" on YouTube or Google.