On the biggest stage


Carmel dance instructor Darren Cupp will perform during the Super Bowl halftime show

DSC 0995

Friends of Darren Cupp are convinced the magnitude of his next performance has not yet hit him.

“They say, ‘You’re acting like it’s just another show,’” Cupp said. “I say, ‘It is just another show for me.’ And then they always remind me it’s the biggest show in the world.”

Just two weeks ago, Cupp, who owns Darren’s Ballroom Dance Studio in the Arts & Design District, was selected to perform alongside Madonna in Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show. He never submitted his resume or knew he was under consideration until he received a call at his studio one afternoon from the show’s casting director, asking if he would like to be part of the show. He, of course, said “Absolutely.”

Cupp said he was told he was selected, without applying, because he has a varied background that includes modeling and performances at high-profile events, such as the premieres of films like “Shall We Dance”and “True Lies.”

“So they knew I would be comfortable in that type of element,” Cupp said.

But this is bigger than any show in which he has ever performed. It’s also very different. Last year’s Super Bowl was viewed by more than 100 million people, yet while he was only a little more than a week away from taking the world’s biggest stage, Cupp had only recently started rehearsing and knew very little about the show at the time of Current’s interview.

Even fewer were the number of details he could discuss.

“We’re getting our information on a need-to-know basis,” he said. “I know what I’m doing and how it relates to the show, but that’s really the extent of what I know. That’s probably what’s amazed me the most: just how much they’re trying to keep anything from being leaked.”

283312 1884310387567 1235586696 31677497 5390733 n

Cupp said he had been rehearsing nearly every day since being selected, typically for up to eight hours per day. He isn’t permitted to disclose where in Indianapolis the rehearsals take place, but the site changes nearly every day, he said. Performers – how many, Cupp could not reveal – practice their respective parts in heavily-secured buildings with covered windows, he said. Each day brings a new rehearsal site and a bit more information about their respective routines. At the time of the interview, Cupp said he only knew the parts of his performance that had been rehearsed at the time. He had been told very little else, if anything, about the rest of his role.

“It’s a very intense process just for us to arrive at rehearsal,” he said. “It’s almost James Bond-like. They’re keeping it that secretive,but they’re doing it for a reason. The show is very elaborate.”

At press time, the Indianapolis resident had not yet worked with Madonna, and while he knew when his first meeting with her would take place, he said he could not reveal that, either. He did, however, say he will get to “work very closely with her.”

Cupp has worked with celebrities in the past, but perhaps none like Madonna – an international star of whom he has been a lifelong fan.

He can’t disclose much about his upcoming performance, but considering Madonna’s involvement, some facts should be a given, he said.

“She doesn’t do anything small,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be one of the biggest halftime shows ever.”


Meet Darren Cupp

Cupp was born in the U.K. and lived on the east coast until moving to Indiana five years ago to be closer to his family. He has more than 17 years of experience teaching, coaching, consulting and competing in dance. His career highlights include dancing at the premieres of films such as “True Lies,”“Shall We Dance” and “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” as well as being chosen to promote the Liz Claiborne fragrance Mambo.He opened his first dance studio in New Hampshire in 2000 and opened Darren’s Ballroom Dance Studio in the Arts & Design District in 2008. There, he teaches all levels of ballroom and Latin dancing in both group and private sessions. His students participate in two major competitions each year: the Volunteer State Dance Challenge and Grand Nationals in Miami. “All of my students have gotten first places,” Cupp said. For more information, visit www.darrensballroom.com.


Big-Game entertainment

Kelly Clarkson will perform the national anthem at Sunday’s game, while country stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will sing “America the Beautiful.” Rumors have been circulating pop duo LMFAO would be one of Madonna’s surprise guests during the halftime show.


By Kevin Kane
[email protected]

Kevin is the managing editor of Current in Carmel.