Hip oldies taking on world
It could be Viva Las Vegas for The World's Oldest Flash Mob which aims to perform at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in August.
The local dance troupe, which has spent the past six months doing flash mob performances around Auckland, is now an official hip-hop dance group called The Hip Op-eration Crew, using music produced by two young Waiheke hip-hop artists.
It will start its Las Vegas campaign by entering the Auckland Regional Hip Hop Championships in March.
The crew consists of 46 Waiheke Islanders aged between 66 and 96 years old.
Ten members are in their late 80s and early 90s, the oldest, 96-year-old Violet Hollis, is in a wheelchair, six others use mobility aids like zimmerframes and walking sticks, many are deaf and one is legally blind.
Crew manager Billie Jordan says ageism is a real issue in western society.
"A lot of people automatically presume that just because you're a senior citizen you must be old-fashioned, feeble, no longer able to contribute to society."
While the overall aim of the crew is to reduce the stigma of aging, it's also focused on bringing youth cultures and senior citizens closer together.
"Just like youth, older people are often mis-understood and undervalued by society. They have a lot in common.
"Regardless of their age and physical ability, The Hip Op-eration Crew is not letting those limitations get in the way of learning hip hop."
If they are successful at the Auckland championships, next up is the New Zealand Championships in April.
Success will see them eligible for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas in August.
Billie says: "Although The Hip Op-eration Crew may not be considered skilled enough to advance on to the New Zealand National Championships, they still hope to be able to go to Las Vegas to perform at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships.
"Hip Hop International, the event organisers, sometimes invite or allow non-qualifying dance crews to perform at the championships.
"So we are in communications with them and we are hoping they will let our dancers do a performance at the event to show that, no matter what your age, you can still embrace, respect and celebrate the culture of hip hop," Billie says.