With age comes Wizdom
April 7, 2019 4:39 PM   Subscribe

They are likely the only NBA dance team "presented by AARP" (tweet with short video clip), but that's because the Wizdom members are all over 50 (NPR). The Road to Wizdom (YT playlist) was tough, taking more than 50 applicants and narrowing it down to 19 women and one man, who range in age from 50 to 76.

More from NPR:
With contagious enthusiasm, team members are almost always dancing: in the locker room, walking to practice, lining up to perform.

"They're very well-rehearsed, perform with a lot of energy, charisma, style, and are just entertaining to watch," says the team's choreographer, Derric Whitfield. "The audience can get behind them because they are so good. It's not just, 'Oh that was cute,' it's 'Wow they really can dance.'"
The group's last performance is on April 9. They'll all have to tryout again next year if they want to rejoin the team.

But members of the Wizdom say that won't keep them apart. They've already planned cookouts and pool parties for the off-season. As "Nana" puts it, the team has become a family.
And more from CBS News:
The Wizdom take the court one game a month at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., with 19 women and one guy. "I'm a huge, huge dance fan," said Christopher Johnson. "I've been dancing, my parents would tell you, comin' outta the crib."

But, at 53, Johnson said this is his first time dancing in front of an audience. "It's a dream," he said.

The team's been a dream for so many members, but they do jump through some hoops to get there. First, intense tryouts; then, weekly workouts.

Lulu Hester-Alexander was inspired to try out by her granddaughter, Jasmine, a Wizards dancer, who said of her grandmother, "Sometimes, the dance moves that they do, I'm like, 'Oh my God, why did I have her do this?' But I am her number-one fan."

And often, it's the Wizdom who connect with the fans in the stands. "I think because we're more like them," said Cizmar. "They see themselves. It's like, 'If you can do it, then I can do it.' I look out for people who are kind of looking and dancing with me, and I throw a little face their way."
[Includes an embedded video]
posted by filthy light thief (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
We have a seniors dance team that performs for the WMBA here in the Twin Cities, and I know several members from dance classes at the Y. It actually causes a little drama and hurt feelings, because you audition every year, and sometimes participants aren’t invited back. I love all opportunities for adult amateurs to rehearse and perform in public, whether choir, chamber music, dance, theater, etcetera. Feed your joy!
posted by Malla at 5:09 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

You sure that's not "Wizenedom"?

(I kid - which I'm allowed to do, since I'm over 50. This is actually very cool and they dance way better that I ever could)

posted by Greg_Ace at 5:10 PM on April 7, 2019

I can only hope to dance like that in 20-30 years!
posted by gryphonlover at 7:35 PM on April 7, 2019

Ok I'm digging this- I'm about to start taking classes again at 45...so see you in a few years!!
posted by bquarters at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2019

This is fantastic, thank you.

Because I work in the neighborhood, I wonder what role geography might have played in the creation of the dance team; the national AARP headquarters is just a block away from Capital One Arena.
posted by duffell at 5:33 AM on April 8, 2019

Obligatory "we have one of these too" for the New Orleans Pelicans.

They don't perform every game, but judging by fan reaction they are far more popular than the primary dance team.
posted by NervousVarun at 8:57 AM on April 8, 2019

Yeah, I think the spurs have one too? The silver spurs, I think. It's one of those timeout half time things they don't show on broadcast. I'm guessing the difference is in the lede, that they aren't sponsored by AARP. Also, the wiz don't have much to brag about unless beal makes all-nba.
posted by lkc at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2019

Bucks Granddancers. Silver I guess is what they just call the regular squad in San Antonio, but this is not just a DC thing.
posted by lkc at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2019

This is great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:31 PM on April 8, 2019

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