SEEN THROUGH the eyes of choreographer Keith Young—he's put together routines for Madonna and OutKast, among others—"dancing and football have a lot of similar moves." The thesis was put to the test last month when Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Patriots tackle Matt Light and Giants defensive end Justin Tuck convened to prance about a studio in Brooklyn (under Young's guidance) and film an ad that will debut during the Feb. 1 Super Bowl. The 60-second spot for SoBe Lifewater (it's in 3-D, and, if you must, you can pick up glasses at grocery stores and such places) will feature those wacky computer-generated lizards that made their professional bow alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell during last year's big game. At one point in the nearly eight hours of filming, the 6'5", 274-pound Tuck was asked to stay frozen with his arms raised in a bungled ballet pose for several minutes. This is not as easy as it may sound. "Holy s---!" he said after a while.
The ad ties into Dreamworks' forthcoming animated film Monsters vs. Aliens—the commercial's director, Peter Arnell, suggests that "when you look at those football players as a kid, they look like aliens and monsters"—and the players spent the day in front of a lime-green screen wearing skintight white sweat suits; the lizards will be added later. Arnell, who has worked with Lewis on previous ads, was impressed with his subjects, noting how intent they were to chip in directorial advice ("Cecil B. DeMille times three," Arnell said) and how selflessly they shared hard-won technical advice. "Dump some of it out so that it won't spill," Light told Lewis as they shimmied while holding open bottles of Lifewater.
The three rivals broke bread together—O.K., it was steak and potatoes—on the set, and they deflected praise about their footwork. "It's a heat-of-the-moment thing," said Light after he'd busted a particularly jazzy shuffle. "I've never done that before in my life. Those two are far and away the better dancers." Said Tuck, "I was just following Ray."