Half-court hustle: The Pelicans Senior Dance squad

(FOX 8)
Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 at 10:07 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Who says people over the age of 50 don’t have good dance moves?

Don’t tell that to the group of hip, young-at-heart seniors scoring big on the basketball court. They are the Pelicans Senior Dance Team, and fans look forward to seeing them perform about once a month during the NBA season

The 24 die-hard dancers are all over 55 and defying their age. They can’t wait to get on the court and bust a move for fired-up fans.

“They’re a fan favorite,” says their coach, Ashley Deaton. “The crowd adores and loves them.”

Of the four dance teams Deaton coaches, she says they are the most excited to learn.

"However, it takes them a little longer to pick it up and retain it and get their memory on point," Deaton says.

They practice at least once a week and hold dress rehearsals before every performance. There’s never a dull moment with this group made up of big personalities.

“My grandchildren said, ‘Oh Mawmaw, you are not going to do hip-hop.’ Oh yes I am!” says 68-year-old Helene Lowenstein, who is also a stand-up comedienne. “I make a joke that they are just clapping because they realize we are still alive and breathing after doing hip-hop.”

Chevelle Cavalier, who goes by the nickname Chevy, is considered the baby of the bunch. In her first year on the squad, she loves the attention and laughs at people’s perception.

“I think when they first see us they think about Bengay and think, ‘Oh they are going to be hurting in the morning,’” Cavalier says. “But when they see us do our routine and some of the latest dances, they be like, ‘Ooh look at them old people they gettin’ down, you know?”

It’s also Roi-lynne Hulin’s first year with the team, but the love of dance runs in her family. Her daughter Lauren is a member of the Saintsations.

"Her moves are better than my moves," says Hulin. "She tries to help me, but it's just not the same."

The men are outnumbered. There are just four guys on the team. Kenneth Cotton is one of them, but he won’t dare say whether the guys or the gals are the better dancers.

“We are all good. That’s the secret - we’re all good!” says Cotton.

The team dances at the Fan Fest before the game and performs at the end of the first quarter.

Seventy-four-year-old Mitzi Gregoire says they always seem to score big with the crowd.

“When you come out on the floor, even before you dance, they act like you’re a rock star,” Gregoire says. “They start screaming and hollering, and in fact they have to jack up the sound system because sometimes we can’t hear the music!”

“I have to remind them before every performance, if the crowd gets really loud, just keep counting because there have been moments when the crowd roars and they can’t hear the music,” Deaton says.

“After we dance and we are going upstairs, they want your autograph or they want a picture with you. I mean, they make you feel important,” says Gregoire.

The Pelicans pay the seniors for practices, games and other appearances, but the dancers say they don't do it for the money.

In her seventh year on the squad, Lowenstein says it keeps her moving mentally and physically. Hulin calls learning new routines exercise for her memory. You get the sense they’re one big, happy, sassy family.

“They’re just so much fun," Deaton says. "I only hope to have that much energy and fun with my life when I’m their age you know.”

The Pelicans Senior Dance Team is definitely proof that age is just a number, and that you’re never too old to shake your groove thing.

The team doesn't hold auditions every year, but rather about every five years.

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