The dancers come from varied backgrounds. Jenn is a season ticket holder with the Warriors, and she has a day job in healthcare. She saw the Hardwoods and tried out as soon as she qualified. At 55, it was the first audition of her life.
“I have to admit I was a little terrified in the beginning. In my first season, I had a little bit of imposter syndrome,” Jenn said. “How did I get here? How am I getting to do this? But now that I’m doing it, I can’t imagine not doing it.”
Jan, on the other hand, said she began her professional dancing career when she was 14. She described working on chorus lines, on television, and as a contortionist in an acrobatic act. She says she still does the splits to limber up — “at a moment’s notice, wherever I go.”
The group’s routines are morsels lasting a single minute and belying its diligent work ethic. Each requires several hours of learning, then perfecting, the choreography.
“You just eat, sleep, and drink the routine,” Jan said. “I try to do it first thing, before I brush my teeth.”
The dancers say they feel grateful for the community they have found among their fellow Hardwood Classics, and for their enormous stage at half-court in San Francisco’s Chase Center.
“We all love each other so much,” Jenn said.
Jan adds that they visit each other in the offseason to see movies, watch games, and celebrate grandchildren.
“At this stage of your life, usually you’re rather sedate. You’re not, you know, making new friends and things like that. This is just the complete opposite.”
If the Golden State Warriors can pull out three straight wins against the Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals — Game 5 is Wednesday night — the team will proceed to the finals.
That would give the Hardwood Classics a chance at one more performance to cap off their season.
Audio story edited by Jacob Conrad.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.