Florida A&M University alumni Ben Criswell, ZaVante Fizer, and Damion Franklin performed in the NFL Super Bowl LV halftime performance alongside pop sensation The Weeknd.
Fizer and Franklin were both members of the Strikers Dance Troop while on “the Hill” and Criswell was a member of Boyz of Poison. Their love and passion for dance brought them to one stage in Tampa, Florida this year and they are excited for the future.
In an interview with 90.5 host Mariah Iman, the group discussed the impact FAMU had on their professional dancing careers and what it was like performing at the Super Bowl.
Franklin recalled the brotherhood he found through Strikers Dance Troop and how it sparked his interest in dancing.
“My love and passion (for dance) stemmed from there,” said Franklin. “After seeing a lot of young African American men uplifting each other, I instantly fell in love with that and I decided to take it further.”
The trio vividly recalled the pressure that came with performing at FAMU and the desire to be “on pint”.
“The atmosphere at FAMU is really different because you have a lot of your friends cheering your name,” said Criswell. “It gives you a different level for a comfort zone.”
The support and constructive criticism that comes with a FAMU crowd tough the young men to give each performance their all. Since graduating each dancer has continued to take dance classes and perform in studios.
Casting calls for Super Bowl LV halftime performers gave the trio an opportunity to put their skills on a national stage.
Though it was a battle for each member to hold on to the secret of their involvement with the performance, they agreed that the surprise factor to their family and friends was worth it.
“The Super Bowl was me planting my seed for the future,” said Fizer. “We are blessed to have this opportunity. We know this is not our plateau, just our planting seed.”
The social exposure after performing with The Weeknd has placed them in a position to gain more access and opportunities moving forward.
For the trio, the Super Bowl was just the beginning and it has pushed them to work harder in their professional career.