Big Pimpin’ Grandmas

Petra Pope noticed something funny during last season’s Nets halftime dance contests: “Whenever a senior citizen starts doing hip-hop moves, the crowd goes nuts.” So Pope, the team’s director of entertainment, decided to assemble a senior dance team; tryouts were last week. While Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got” blared, three perky Nets dancers led the 34 women (plus one man) through gentle calisthenics, then taught a one-minute hip-hop routine. As the song replayed four dozen times, they complained (“This hurts my knee!”) and asked questions (“How do you pump during a twist?” “What’s a pump?”). Vince Curatola, a.k.a. Johnny “Sack” Sacramoni on The Sopranos, served as one of the judges. “Wherever there’s life, there’s hope,” he said.

Photo: Meghan Petersen/Redux [4]

Margaret Dellavalle
82, Milford, New Jersey
What’s your strategy for winning?
The idea is to be in rhythm with all the other girls. I tried to be expressive at first. They didn’t like that.
What’s the biggest challenge in tryouts?
I’m not used to this beat. I gotta get it in my legs.
Who told you about this?
Who’s Marla?
My granddaughter. She’s a dancer for the Nets—the pretty one over there.

Judith Bar-Nadav
71, Wayne, New Jersey
How did you hear about this?
You must come to the Midland Park senior center. Our choreographer is a Rockette, and we perform all over.
In Bergen and Essex counties, and Passaic. We do eight routines. While the singer sings, we catch our breath.
You’re wearing tap shoes. Have you done hip-hop before?
No. I tried. It’s not my thing.

Claire Gaines
61, Manhattan
Why’d you come to New Jersey?
I love to perform. And I wanted to debunk stereotypes. Like that we can’t move, that we don’t have the ability to learn. Not true.
Do you like the music?
Actually, this is not my favorite choice. There are better choices.
What’s your preference?
Latin and salsa.
What’s your favorite part of the routine?
I like to spin.

Fanny Militar
80, South Brunswick, New Jersey
Have you always wanted to be a dancer?
No. My granddaughter showed me the flyer this morning. She said, “Grandma, do you want to do this?” I say okay.
Are you a dancer?
Every Friday I do line dancing and a little ballroom. We go to a restaurant with a Filipino D.J.
What’s your best move?
The wave-wave, then stamp.
What’s the hardest?
The lift.

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Big Pimpin’ Grandmas