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A Super Performance with Rihanna

By Billy Montgomery

There’s a huge difference between dancing in the mirror and performing before millions, but for one 20-year-old college student, the change landed her in this year’s Super Bowl half time performance. As one of 280 backup dancers during Rihanna’s half-time performance in February, Luhnyae Campbell’s spotlight came on during the final portion of the 13-minute set. However, the benefits of the three minutes she danced on the football field have extended with the post-game publicity she has received. “We looked like marshmallows out there. So, I did a little dance in the suit and posted it on TikTok. I thought it was nothing,” Campbell said. “I woke up and it had like hundreds of thousands of views. It's in the millions now.”

Those views caught the eyes of several media outlets and businesses who reached out to the Arizona State University business major, including Entertainment Tonight and the popular skin care cosmetics brand e.l.f.


“I'm so shocked (by the attention). I’m just a regular degular person. I'm not saying this to downplay the magnitude of everything going on,” Campbell said. “I just want to inspire people.” While she is getting a lot of attention for dancing, Campbell’s college focus is somewhere else. The business marketing major said the aftermath of the Super Bowl has heightened her awareness of cultivating connections and being intentional on the power of marketing herself.


“I couldn't have done this without the connections I've made throughout college a

nd high school,” Campbell said. “It was a friend who sent me the link for the (Super Bowl) auditions. She's a dance major. I'm not. But I make sure to surround myself with people who aren’t just about being successful, but like sharing the success.” Blended with an ethnic mix of Filipino and Black American, Campbell said dance affords her the opportunity to express herself authentically as she looks for spaces to be inclusive. “I am all about representation because I know what it's like going into these spaces and you're the only person who looks like you, thinks like you, feels like you,” Campbell said. “Dance is one of my safe spaces to release and express everything.” Reflecting on the gratefulness of her experience, Campbell said she didn’t grow up in the

dance community, but being open to the art form prepared her for opportunities like the Super Bowl performance. “I'm so glad that I got this opportunity because I haven't like really danced as long as others,” Campbell said. “I take classes every now, but you know, if I have to pay for those classes, they can be costly.”

While Campbell is experiencing a lot of shine, she shared that a little shade has come along too, as people have tried to create a hierarchal division between the field dancers and the core dancers who performed on several elevated platforms to protect the field. Campbell was one of the field dancers. “No matter where we were stationed, all the dancers worked very hard. The key word ‘dancer’ is still in there,” Campbell said. “One day those field dancers could be core dancers. It’s all part of the journey.”

Two weeks of intense rehearsals preceded the Super Bowl where no practice was under seven hours. Most of the trial runs were without Rihanna, who joined toward the end. Campbell said despite the long hours and sore body parts, the thrill was worth it. “I still get chills talking about it,” Campbell said. “Not only was it a free Rihanna concert and I was paid to be there, but what has happened since then has been amazing. I'm so blessed.” Photos courtesy of Luhnyae Campbell


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