Nutritional sciences freshman Sarah Broekhoven wasn’t nervous about dancing on live television in the most-watched event of the year. The thrill of busting moves next to the Queen of Pop Beyoncé overpowered any anxiety.
Broekhoven, who wasn’t permitted to talk to the media until after her performance, has been dancing for about 18 years — since she was nearly 2 years old, and does every type of dancing. She had the opportunity to dance with Beyoncé because her former hip-hop instructor is the local liaison for casting local dancers.
The former instructor told Broekhoven to send in a photo and audition tape and promised to put in a good word for her.
Although she knew it was a dream opportunity, Broekhoven said she was originally uncertain about whether to try to be a performer. Her friends encouraged her to try, even though she doubted she would be picked.
“This is like a life-changing experience. I’m gonna try,” she said.
When she received her acceptance email, Broekhoven said she “screamed and fell off my couch.” Her parents hugged and high-fived her, and her family couldn’t wait to watch her on television.
The largest crowd she’d ever performed in front of was a few hundred people — nothing compared to the 71,000 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and millions watching on TV.
She was one of about 70 other women to perform with Beyoncé during her popular anthem “Single Ladies.” Broekhoven said she was in the show for a fleeting one minute and 20 seconds.
To prepare, she rehearsed in six practices that spanned several hours each, and in each one, she was able to see Queen B. She said the singer performed in practice without music and sounded just like her recordings.
Although she didn’t personally speak to Beyoncé, she said the pop star often thanked the local dancers for assisting in her show.
After Sunday’s performance, Beyoncé came backstage and jumped into Broekhoven’s group of dancers as they excitedly bounced up and down together.
For Broekhoven, the best part of performing at halftime was the energy and being with her friends.
“It was a very humbling experience,” she said.
Another memorable moment for Broekhoven was seeing the Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus sing “America the Beautiful” for Beyoncé in their dressing room.
“It was touching to see,” she said.
While they weren’t on stage, other University students also saw Beyoncé up close and personal.
Elementary education sophomore Kiersten Blair was among the members of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority performing on the field.
Blair was on the 50-yard line, only a few feet away from the stage. She said when Beyoncé was performing, the superstar was facing toward her.
“She was just right there. She was so close to us,” Blair said.
Psychology junior Reem Al-Juraid said the Zetas heard about the opportunity to perform in an email saying if enough women applied, they would be in the show.
One of the most exciting moments, according to Blair, was the walk from the tunnel into the dome.
“Everyone was screaming,” she said. “The atmosphere was indescribable.”
Blair said it was fun being so close to the stage because Beyoncé would feel their energy, which was something they worked on at rehearsal.
“She wanted us to really interact with her,” Blair said.
Blair said they had to keep their involvement a secret until Friday, which was hard to do.
“I will never forget this day,” Blair said of Sunday’s show.
Al-Juraid said the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the participating Zetas and a great experience for them to interact with one another and see Beyoncé perform.