When the Chicago Bulls’ special half-time dancers, the Swingin’ Seniors take center court at the United Center to entertain guests, it doesn’t matter that the performer is a former CPS math teacher, CTPF member, mom to two sets of twins and a son, a grandma, and the oldest PhD candidate at Illinois State University. Karon Stewart makes her retirement add up by doing what she loves and the crowd cheers her on.
The all-volunteer Swingin’ Seniors entertainment team dances at select Bulls games. Every August (this year the date is set for August 17), the Chicago Bulls hold Swingin’ Senior auditions, calling for “energetic, enthusiastic” men and women aged 60 and up, who must learn and perform a hip hop routine for judges during an afternoon audition at a dance studio in Chicago. Current members audition annually.
The group practices Sunday evenings under the direction of a professional choreographer. Karon commented that she “especially appreciates the health and wellness that comes with the coaching and the opportunity to exercise.” She said, “The best part is the camaraderie. As you get older, age could restrict you and this doesn’t. As you work with the team you have the chance to continue to learn about yourself and it reinforces lessons in life.”
In addition to dancing, Karon is a scholarship student working on a PhD in Math Education at Illinois State University and is also a substitute teacher. You can also occasionally find her as an extra on a TV show.
Karon wants fellow retirees to know that “the world is open to you, pick your passion, and go after it. You spend all of your life working for someone else, when you retire, it is time to work for you.”