Super Bow Live image provided by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee

“Opportunity.”

That’s one of the words the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee used in an audition notice calling for 96 “technically-trained” Twin Cities dancers to perform during Super Bowl Live, the Jan. 26-Feb. 4 outdoor festival that builds the hype for Minnesota's date with the nation’s biggest sporting event.

“Exploitation!”

That’s what some members of Minnesota’s professional dance community are calling the audition notice for hip-hop, jazz and break dancers, ages 16-35.

Dancers will be required to attend two rehearsals and work at least four four-hour shifts during the various events to be held on the Nicollet Mall. In return, they will receive meals plus a $100 "donation" to cover transportation expenses. Plus, they get to keep their costumes.

“As dance makers we know: This is not a great opportunity! This is exploitation," Twin Cities choreographer Laurie Van Wieren commented on Facebook along with a link to the audition notice posted on the website for Northrop Auditorium, the biggest presenter of dance shows in Minnesota.

The audition call says that dancers who are chosen for Super Bowl Live will work in 12- and 24-person teams, performing three dances, lasting three to five minutes, during each four-hour shift. 

One incentive, according to the posting, is "exposure" to choreographer Mark Swanhart, whose credits include Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion's Las Vegas show and Baz Luhrmann's staging of "La Boheme."

“As you know, one can die of exposure,” quipped Twin Cities choreographer Cassandra Shore.

“The NFL has the money,” Van Wieren said. “They need to pay for the time, the skill, the art.”

The NFL, however, is not involved in staging Super Bowl Live. That is a Host Committee event, and one that is free of charge. The committee issued the following statement Monday:

“The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is a locally-based, non-profit organization charged with hosting the world in our beloved state for one of the world’s biggest sporting events.  We are seeking to highlight local dancers, particularly student groups, as part of our free and open to the public festival. This is just one more way that we are involving the community in this once-in-a-lifetime, memorable event.”

Although the NFL is a money-making juggernaut, it’s not known for shelling out big bucks to entertainers. Super Bowl halftime acts are unpaid, for example, but Justin Timberlake will be able to translate the exposure from this winter's show into album sales, downloads and commercial endorsements.

Regardless of who's paying, dancers argue that they use their bodies much as professional athletes do, with all the attendant risks, including repetitive stress injuries, sprains and broken bones. Of course, dancers’ earnings are relatively paltry — rounding errors when compared to that of professional athletes.

Auditions take place this weekend for a chance to perform for audiences for the Super Bowl, which comes to Minnesota for the first time since 1992.

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