The Sassy Steppers perform at Oak Park Place. Photo by Ruth Hellenbrand

By Ruth Hellenbrand

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been featuring senior dance teams since the Miami Heat introduced the “Golden Oldies” in 2005. Today, 12 NBA teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, feature performers age 50-plus to entertain the fans. But the NBA has nothing on the North Eastside Senior Coalition (NESCO) — we have the “Sassy Steppers.”

Just a year ago, Ruth Hellenbrand, NESCO’s program manager, used a notice in the Golden Times newsletter to see if there was interest in forming a dance crew. Ruth said the idea was actually the suggestion of Alyssa Bordeleau, NESCO’s lead case manager, who had seen the NBA dancers in a YouTube video. Bordeleau was certain there would be some NESCO members who enjoyed dancing — and there were. “We met to discuss the idea, voted on a name, developed a t-shirt that was sponsored by the Willy Street Co-op and the Sassy Steppers were born,” Ruth said.

The group does dance routines that include hip-hop, pop and oldies music and holds weekly practice sessions. There are currently 10 performers, although the number varies depending on who is available to perform. “We’ve gained new faces and lost some folks, too, because these are very busy people,” Ruth explained. Sonya Rowe, a longtime NESCO volunteer, choreographs and teaches the dance routines.

The Sassy Steppers not only enjoy dancing but also embrace learning something new. “We do not sit on the sidelines. We look for and seize opportunities that expand our experiences and our network of friends and acquaintances,” said Pat Morgan, a member of the group. Dancing has the added benefit of being good exercise. The routines also improve concentration, coordination and teamwork.

The Sassy Steppers perform at the Mallard’s Senior Day June 20. Photo by Sonya Rowe

The Sassy Steppers performed at the Mallard’s Senior Day game June 20 and have entertained at Oak Park Place and a number of NESCO events. They will perform Sept. 23 at AppleFest, NESCO’s fall fundraiser at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center.

The Sassy Steppers always welcome new members — no audition is necessary. For more information, contact Ruth Hellendbrand at or 243-5252.