Paly Quad to Levi’s Stadium: Students perform at Super Bowl 50

Amy Leung, Author

Members of Palo Alto High School’s cheer and dance team pose with a “Super Bowl 50” flag before their performance at the halftime show today at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Left to right, top to bottom row) Senior Emma Sternfield, sophomores Grace Kitayama, Clare Thomas, seniors Melanie Guan, Mariah Poitier, junior Lauren Jozefov, senior Ella Higashi and junior Nathalia Castillo submitted a video and were selected along with 200 other dancers to perform as “flowers.” Photo by Julie Sternfield.

Eight members of Palo Alto High School’s cheer and dance team performed at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show today.

The performance, inundated with local teenagers, featured seniors Melanie Guan, Ella Higashi, Mariah Poitier and Emma Sternfield; juniors Nathalia Castillo and Lauren Jozefov; and sophomores Grace Kitayama and Clare Thomas. They danced alongside big-time musicians Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, spinning colorful flower umbrellas and precisely rotating formations with around 200 other dancers.

According to Higashi, the only performer from the cheer team, a favorite part of the experience was spending a few days before the game with the performers. Guan agreed that working alongside the famous artists was a memorable moment.

“The highlight of the performance was definitely when Jay-Z and Blue Ivy walked past me and waved,” Guan said.

The Paly cheer and dance team became involved about a month ago when Julie Zimmer, the halftime show casting director, contacted the team to perform, according to Guan.

“The Super Bowl halftime coordinators contacted our coach via email,” Sternfield said. “We submitted a video of our team performing multiple dances, and soon after they contacted us saying we’ve been chosen to dance in the halftime show.”

After being chosen, the performers committed to confidentiality and hours of practice.

“We weren’t allowed to tell anyone for around a month, but we had to leave school early a couple days to practice around five to six hours in Santa Clara,” Castillo said.

On the Wednesday through Friday leading up to the Super Bowl, the Paly performers had extra rehearsals from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., according to Jozefov.

“Those rehearsals were really fun because most of the time we were watching the singers perform,” Jozefov said.

The dancers agreed that overall, their inclusion in the performance was an unforgettable opportunity.

“It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and being a part of this event was one that I’ll never forget,” Castillo said.

See posted recording by “Heavy” here.