Seniors audition for Bulls dance squad
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent November 12, 2011 9:02PM
Louise Brandys of Highland (1) concentrates on the choreography steps during auditions for the Swingin' Seniors, an entertainment dance team for the Chicago Bulls at Omni 41 in Schererville, Ind. Saturday November 12, 2011. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 14, 2011 8:35AM
SCHERERVILLE — While the women sat and chatted among themselves waiting for their tryout, Joe Kwasny sat off to the side on a pile of yoga mats, wondering what he’d gotten himself into.
Chicago Bulls Luvabulls director Cathy Core tried to put the 62-year-old retired Highland Police Officer and lone male to audition for the basketball team’s Swingin’ Seniors dance squad at ease before the actual dancing began. But singling him out only added to his embarrassment, at least at first.
“We’re happy to see Joe,” said Core, joined by former Luvabull and Swingin Seniors choreographer Evadney Hamilton.
“I’m not!” Kwasny shot back before laughing and joining the lineup.
Even the most rhythmically gifted don’t always make “dropping it like it’s hot” look, well, hot, or at the very least easy, but the 25 seniors who came out for the Swingin’ Seniors auditions at Omni 41 Fitness Center on Saturday afternoon had the aerobics room hopping and onlookers laughing out of sheer joy at how well they were nailing the dance moves.
The would-be members — all over the age of 62 — picked up the Wobble as easily as they might have the Stroll or Bossa Nova when they were teens.
Which is good since, if chosen to be one of the troupe’s 12 members, they’re going to be learning new routines to new music before each performance, Core said.
“The team dances once a month and sometimes twice, but we don’t do the same dance over and over,” she said. “We also pick the music strategically.”
After all, it’s not every day you’re going to see Grandma or Grandpa bust a move to V.I.C. or Beyonce. And that’s the whole point.
“It’ll be halftime, and the music will come on and everyone’s like, ‘What is this?’ Then they come out and the crowd goes absolutely nuts,” Core said. “This is a very popular group.”
Once the troupe is assembled, they’ll practice twice a week at Omni for a couple hours until game day in Chicago. Then they’ll practice for a couple hours before tip-off.
“We look for enthusiasm and someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, even though this is a serious group,” Core said. “We’ve had an 84-year-old woman as part of the group and a 94-year-old man a few years ago. And he kept up with the best of them.”
Kwasny, a Bulls fan, had seen the Seniors perform and, because he likes trying new things, thought it would be fun even with the ribbing he suspects he’s going to get.
“Oh, I know some of my former co-workers are going to enjoy this,” Kwasny said. “And I know some of the older guys are really going to laugh.”
Chicagoans Barbara Strong, 63, and Carole Pooler, 70, said the dancing really was as much fun as it looked. It wasn’t quite as easy even though they made it look that way.
“I used to tap dance, and that last step, I couldn’t coordinate,” Pooler said.