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Cirque du Soleil to Open Super Bowl XLI Entertainment

Entertainment at the National Football League's Super Bowl Game is as much as part of the game as the athletic competition. This year, the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil will highlight the pregame show. Veteran entertainer Billy Joel will sing the U.S. National anthem, and Prince will perform at halftime. As VOA's David Byrd reports from Miami, Florida the site of Super Bowl XLI, this year's entertainment promises to dazzle and amaze football fans.

Cirque du Soleil, the internationally known artistic organization based in Quebec, Canada, has delighted fans for years. Since its founding in 1984, Cirque has combined a unique mix of music, dance, acrobatics, scenery, and other performance art to dazzle audiences. At this year's Super Bowl, Cirque du Soleil has teamed with Miami-based visual artist Romero Britto to produce the One Day, One Game, One Dream pregame show.

Cirque du Soleil President and CEO Daniel Lemarre says the pre-game extravaganza will combine palm trees, ocean waves, fishes, footballs, birds and flowers to emphasize the fusion of football and South Florida.

"So we have put together this team and they have been working for six months now to put together this high energy extravaganza - music, acrobatic, dance, percussion, in order to create enthusiasm right before the game. We have flown artists from Russia, Hungary, England, Argentina, and of course from Canada and the U.S.," he said.

Romero Britto, who combines elements of cubism, pop art and graffiti in his work, was recently a guest artist at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He says that dealing with world economic problems and celebrating at the Super Bowl both add to the lives of all people.

"And I think that's what I saw in Davos. People were concerned about doing something better to the world. And I think the NFL and Cirque du Soleil they are really adding to the life of a lot of people. And what we are going to have on Sunday with the Super Bowl, a lot of people are going to have the best time of their lives," he said.

Once the pre-game festivities are over, Billy Joel will sing the national anthem. Joel has sung the anthem several times before, including at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami. Joel says that the song is a difficult one to sing.

"It was written early in the 19th Century and that's the vernacular that is used in the song, so nobody remembers the lyrics because they don't really know what they mean. And the melody is difficult; everybody drops out on the high notes. So it's really kind of a slog actually. I'm just doing the anthem; I'm not doing the halftime show. Prince is doing the work," he said.

As Billy Joel mentioned, Prince will headline the halftime show. Unlike others at Thursday's media events, Prince did not answer questions, but performed three songs. The Grammy-award winning entertainer, who just won a Golden Globe for writing "Song of the Heart" for the movie Happy Feet, teased and then rocked a room full of reporters.

Dressed in a bright orange suit and flanked by two twin female dancers in gauzy mini dresses, Prince rocked the pressroom for three songs, including his version of "Johnny B. Goode" as well as "You Need another Lover like You Need a Hole in the Head" and "Get on the Boat".

The prolific musician and producer has recently opened the 1,000-set 3121 Lounge at the Rio in Las Vegas, where he performs on Friday and Saturday nights. He also is nominated for five Grammy awards for his 2006 album 3121. The single "Black Sweat" is nominated for best male R&B (Rhythm and Blues) performance and best R & B song.

Prince joins a long line of entertainers to perform at halftime at the Super Bowl, including last year's show by the Rolling Stones, as well as U2, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Phil Collins, Shania Twain and most notoriously, Janet Jackson, whose so-called costume malfunction caused an uproar when her breast was briefly exposed three years ago.