Our 22 member hip hop mega crew consists of 22 senior citizens aged 68 to 96 years old. The average age is 81 and 13 members are in their 80's and 90's.
We also have a 7 member hip hop crew for travelling performances aged 71 to 95 years old. One member is legally blind, one is deaf, two use hearing aids, one uses a mobility aid and there is also a married couple in the group (aged 82 and 84 years old). The average age of this group is 80.
We are all neighbours and live on Waiheke Island; a small island off the East coast of New Zealand in the South Pacific.
We use hip hop dance as a vehicle to not only form stronger connections with young people but to also promote attitudinal change in our society towards aged persons.
Our dream is to one day travel to the Bronx in New York where hip hop originated. Once there, we want to do surprise Flash Mob hip hop performances in the schools and youth centres to show the kids how their urban ancestors have changed the lives of the most unlikely group of people on the other side of the world. We want to show that, when you do something positive, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant at the time, you can change people's lives for the better all over the globe - even 50 years later! Never underestimate what you can contribute to this world! It's a big dream for us to get to the Bronx, but it is possible.
We performed at the World Hip-Hop Championship in Las Vegas, USA (2013), competed in the New Zealand National Hip Hop Championships twice (2013 & 2014) and performed in the Taipei Arena, Taiwan to an audience of 15,000 (2014). We have also performed at Ted Talks in 2015 (our manager Billie Jordan did an inspirational speech about why and how she set up the group and how it has changed her life and the lives of her dancers. This speech was followed by a performance by the dance crew). You can view this Ted Talk here.
We have also featured in the news media all over the world from the front page of the Wall Street Journal to the BBC News in Europe to Chinese, American, Japanese, Taiwanese and Australian prime-time television.
The Hip Op-eration Crew members include four people who use mobility aids, 13 members in their 80s and 90s, many people who are deaf, and one member who is legally blind. The average age is 81 years old and there are five men and 17 women in the Crew.
We are managed by 45 year old Billie Jordan who is their founder, choreographer, dance teacher, manager, publicist, marketeer, social media and website manager, charity chairperson, events manager, carer and friend. All her time is voluntary (which she fits around a normal paid job). She recently did a Ted Talk which received standing ovations. Click here to view her Ted Talk. Click here to view the performance The Hip Op-eration Crew did after her Ted Talk.
Billie also runs an international package tour company called Discover Me Travel which provides fun adventure travel experiences for the young at heart. The next tour is in Thailand where senior citizens will learn how to be Elephant Trainers (among other activities). If you're interested in joining Billie on this trip, just check out the website here.
The group was founded by Billie Jordan in 2012. They started off as a Flash Mob in August 2012 doing surprise dance performances around Auckland, New Zealand. They were called 'The World's Oldest Flash Mob'. The video of their debut performance on 9th August 2012 has over 1 million hits on YouTube. Then in January 2013 Manager Billie Jordan set the group up as an official Hip Hop dance group called ‘The Hip Op-eration Crew’.
Even though our age can limit our dancing capabilities, we are all inspired by the founders of hip hop from the Bronx who believed it’s not about limitations, it’s about possibilities. Regardless of our age and physical ability, we are not letting those limitations get in the way of learning hip hop.
Ageism is a real issue in western society. A lot of people automatically presume just because you're a senior citizen you must be old fashioned, feeble, no longer able to contribute to society, can't learn new things, aren't engaged in technology, and don't like doing any activity that is supposedly outside of their comfort zone. Part of our aim is to also address those mis-perceptions and prejudices whilst forming a stronger connection with youth.
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