Shakira and J. Lo showcase Colombian culture at Superbowl LIV

By Luke Barnes February 4, 2020

The superstars gave a rapt audience a crash course in some signature Colombian dances.

Photo: Fajar Fieryanto

The half-time show at Sunday’s Superbowl in Miami was a triumphant homage to Latin American music and its growing global clout. It was the first time Latin American artists had featured in the show since 1999, when Gloria Estefan performed for the second time.

The fifteen-minute set, headlined by Shakira and J. Lo, was an extravagant showcase of Latin music. Puerto Rican-born rap superstar Bad Bunny made a surprise appearance, as did the Colombian J. Balvin. 

The show also included a few not-so-subtle criticisms of U.S. immigration policy. At one point in the set, children could be seen in what looked like cages singing ‘Born in the USA.’ Later on in the performance, J. Lo also unveiled a Puerto Rican flag behind her, as the island continues to suffer fallout from 2017’s Hurricane Maria.   

Aside from wowing the 65,000-strong crowd at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium with some of her signature hits, including ‘She Wolf’, ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ and ‘Whenever, Wherever,’ Shakira’s set also included several Colombia-specific dance moves.

At one point during her performance of ‘She Wolf’, for instance, the singer leaned towards the camera, stuck out her tongue and let out a warbling cry. The two-second clip became an instant meme and was immediately mocked, but the jokes quickly subsided when more astute viewers noted that it was a zaghrouta

This tongue movement is commonly used in Middle-Eastern culture to signify joy and celebration (Shakira has Lebanese heritage). It is also often a common sight during the famous Carnaval in Shakira’s hometown of Barranquilla.

During her performance of the 2010 World Cup smash hit ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ Shakira and her entourage also danced the champeta, an Afro-Caribbean dance which has been a staple on the Colombian coastline for decades. After the show, Shakira took to Instagram to pay homage to the young ballerina who helped choreograph the set.

“Meet @diazlizdany – an incredible young dancer from my hometown of Barranquilla. I discovered Liz dancing champeta – a Colombian favorite,” Shakira wrote on instagram. “She’s only 18 but she takes care of her family and works so hard, and she brings so much show. I’m proud to be able to share this stage today with a fellow Barranquillera, and to show this infectious dance from our hometown to the world.”

Prior to the champeta, Shakira also danced the mapalé, another Afro-Caribbean dance style which originated during the slave trade and is still popular during Carnaval de Barranquilla.

The Colombian connections didn’t end there either. When J. Lo and Shakira performed together towards the end of the set they also featured dancers from Swing Latino, a salsa troupe of 24 dancers based out of Cali and led by Luis Eduardo Hernández, otherwise known as “El Mulato.”

Sunday’s Superbowl attracted an estimated 100 million viewers, but that’s hardly the only place Latin American artists are triumphing. According to a recent study by Nielsen, the US-Latin music business grew 18% in 2018, meaning it’s not at all unlikely the NFL will be soon graced with another Latin superstar performance.