The dance crew consists of seven senior citizens aged 71 to 96 years old. The average age is 79 and there are two men and five women in the crew.
One member is legally blind and partially deaf, one member uses a mobility aid, one member is profoundly deaf, two members have had major heart surgery, many have artificial knees and hips, there is a married couple in the group (aged 82 and 84 years old) and all members have arthritis.
They are all neighbours and live on a small island off the East coast of Auckland, New Zealand in the South Pacific (Waiheke Island).
Click here to view their latest rehearsal.
The group is managed by 46 year old Billie Jordan who founded the group after being injured in New Zealand's worst natural disaster - the Christchurch Earthquake on 22nd February 2011. She is also the group's choreographer, dance teacher, publicist, marketer, event manager, transporter and friend. All her time is voluntary.
The dance crew 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.
The dance crew's dream is to one day travel to the Bronx in New York where hip hop originated. Once there, they 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. They 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!
The Hip Op-eration Crew 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). They have also performed at Ted Talks in 2015 (their 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.
They 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 and online news media from Huffington Post and Upworthy to the Daily Telegraph. The group attracts millions of hits when featured in social media.
Founder and Manager 46 year old Billie Jordan 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. One these tours senior citizens learn how to be Stunt Car Drivers and Hip Hop Dancers in New Zealand, Elephant Mahouts in Thailand, Street Fighter Self Defence in the USA and a range of other youthful skills (in addition to the usual sightseeing activities). Countries toured include Nepal and the Himalayas, Thailand, the USA, New Zealand and others on request. If you're interested in joining Billie on one of these fun adventure tours, 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 their age can limit their dancing capabilities, they 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 their age and physical ability, they 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 the group's aim is to also address those mis-perceptions and prejudices whilst forming a stronger connection with youth.
Please click here to visit The Hip Op-eration Crew on Facebook for videos, photos and the latest news.