Aside from Janet Jackson‘s Nipplegate, memories of Super Bowl halftime shows often recede as quickly as the names of the teams who won. And to be able to recall a halftime backup dancer? Forget about it! That is, of course, until Left Shark.
Katy Perry‘s performance at last year’s Super Bowl XLIX ignited a pop culture phenomenon, not for the numbers she performed, or for the special guests who joined her (Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott), but instead for one half of the costumed dancing duo flanking her, now known as Left Shark, who grabbed the attention of the nation and many Halloween costume stores thereafter.
Entertainment Weekly spoke with Super Bowl halftime show director Hamish Hamilton for the behind-the-scenes story of how Left Shark, quite unintentionally, stole the show. “I don’t think anybody on the team had any idea that Left Shark was going to become such a cultural phenomenon,” Hamilton tells EW. “We were trying to work out how we could bring a beach scene to life,” he explains, citing a 2005 Scissor Sisters performance at the Brit Awards that featured a singing melon as inspiration. What they landed on was two dancing sharks who stood to the left and right of Perry – a silly enough concept on its own but one that wouldn’t have necessarily become so noteworthy if not for the fact that the shark on her left seemed to have gone rogue, improvising its own moves to “Teenage Dream” that looked out of synch with the precise movements of Right Shark. Surprisingly, the dancer beneath the costume, Bryan Gaw, was actually a veteran member of Perry’s team (he declined to comment on the story.)
Halftime producer Rob Paine recalls that “a little bit after the show we saw people being like, ‘Oh look, the Left Shark can’t dance.’ But if you look at it again, he’s dancing perfectly fine.” Regardless of the verdict on Left Shark’s moves, Pain admits that “it’s kind of nice when you see a moment you were involved in continue in pop culture history.” Both Hamilton and Paine will be on-hand this coming Super Bowl Sunday to oversee Coldplay‘s halftime show, which they promise will have “a few pieces that have the potential to become viral moments.”
Left Star, this is your moment.