Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Was a Dance Party With Purpose

From there, things got poignant and pointed. Scattered around the Venus-symbol-shaped stage were lit-up cages, where young dancers—including Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz—sat and waited. Muñiz led a slowed-down version of her mother’s early-career hit “Let’s Get Loud,” backed by other children in American-flag-sequined sweatshirts. As the tempo increased (with Shakira assisting on drums), Lopez reappeared in a massive, furry cape that had the American flag on its exterior and the Puerto Rican flag on its interior. She yelled out “Latinos!” and flashed the cape’s lining—a reminder, along with Muñiz singing “Born In the U.S.A.,” that the island is part of the United States. Combined with this imagery, the “Born in the U.S.A.”/“Let’s Get Loud” mash-up that briefly followed gave Lopez’s song a dancing-at-the-revolution spirit, especially given the “keep politics out of sports” maxims that defined opposition to Colin Kaepernick’s anti-NFL protests.

The show ended on an exuberant note, with Shakira rejoining Lopez at center stage. After the two engaged in a brief booty shimmy, Shakira launched into her 2010 World Cup anthem “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” which was accompanied by her and her dancers quick-stepping through champeta, another Afro-Colombian style. (Shakira apparently worked on the choreography with an 18-year-old from her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia.) Lopez returned for a final run-through of “Let’s Get Loud” with some salsa and aerial moves, and ended the set side by shimmering side with Shakira.

It was a whirlwind of a halftime show, the opposite of last year’s wan Maroon 5 performance in so many ways: the connection to the game’s host city; the global reach in terms of genre and style; the dancing (so much dancing!); the surprise guests that actually made sense. This halftime show, the first in which Jay-Z’s Roc Nation had input, charted a potential course for not just the NFL’s mid-game spectacles, but for other organizations’ big moments as well.

While at first the dual-headliner setup seemed like a way to hedge bets, given that neither Shakira nor J. Lo had charted a Top-20 single in the U.S. since 2014, it paid off beautifully: There were two halftime shows’ worth of (mostly upbeat) music and dance, along with a potent message to be proud of where you came from, lift your voice, and raise hell. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez embodied these ideals with heart and gusto, and in the process opened doors to worlds far beyond Miami.

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