Current and past members of the KBH Adorables and Men in Black performance troupe gathered mid-June for a celebratory 20th anniversary dinner to toast their legacy of fitness, fun and friendship.
“We reminisced about so many different things,” said Rose Ann Hoof, a long-term troupe member. “It was a nice celebration.”
Founding member Jane Foster recalls the early days when the group booked 4- to 5 gigs a month at Chicago-area senior homes and organizations, schools, churches, meeting, and special events. More than 20 members would board a KBH bus filled with trunks of colorful costumes, props, and equipment. For many in the troupe, it was their first experience dancing, singing and performing before large groups.
“We had a wonderful time,” Jane said. “There was so much camaraderie with all of us enjoying our friendship and time together – and sharing a love of fitness with the audiences.”
The troupe performed throughout Chicago and Illinois and around the country at national conferences in Denver, Nashville, San Antonio and Michigan. They also entertained at college sports games and on television. Intergenerational programs connected the troupe with local school children.
Director of Wellness and Resident Services Shareen Klasing now leads the troupe with assistance from Lifestyle Director Leslie Grey-Lippold. Troupe members include Mary Therese Hester, Rose Ann Hoof, Pat Jahn, April Rinder, Joan Geary, Jack Foster, John Jacus and Steve Cox.
The group was launched in 2002 by retired KBH Fitness and Wellness Director Barbara Schafer, a former Jazzercize instructor and college music major. Barbara encouraged participants to combine “music with motion,” choreographing a long playlist of dance and fitness routines featuring themes relating to holidays, seasons, or popular tunes.
In 2016, Barbara was recognized with an Illinois Department on Aging Senior Hall of Fame award for creating the group and calling attention to the importance of senior fitness.
During the pandemic, the Adorables discontinued their rehearsals and performances but reconvened once fewer COVID cases were reported. Participants practice weekly and look forward to “hitting the road again” as they recruit new members. Dance, movement, music, and new experiences keep the members excited for the next phase. Each contributes their own star qualities.
“We’re all so close,” Rose Ann said – even those who don’t dance with us anymore. “For all of us, the friendships we have made have been so important.”