After sustaining an injury in a devastating earthquake that hit New Zealand in 2011, Billie Jordan decided she wanted greater meaning her life. She moved to Waiheke Island in the South Pacific, and after meeting a lot of senior citizens there, she was inspired to start a dance troupe called Hip Op-eration, which is currently made up of about 22 senior citizens, women and men, ages 68 to 95. Jordan set a goal for the group: competing at the Hip Hop Championships in Vegas in 2013 — and they did it, landing a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest dance group in the world.
Jordan says meeting the seniors — mostly women — has been life-changing and inspirational. They are her “mothers” and “sisters” and have become family to her. The seniors themselves love the dancing, and the aim is to build connections with younger people through it, as well as promote attitudinal change about agism.
Members of the troupe have performed around the world in various venues, including TED in Auckland, where their founder, manager, choreographer and promoter gaveabout why she founded the group, how it has changed her life (and those of the seniors she works with) and what it can teach the world about aging and the value of older people.
Zoe Romanowskyis lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.