Review: Hip Hop-eration

02:33, Sep 25 2014
hip hop-eration
BRIDGING YEARS AND CULTURES: The Hip Hop-eration Crew made their Las Vegas dream come true.

According to The Guinness Book of Records the oldest dance troupe in the world live in New Zealand.

They are the Hip Hop-eration Crew, residents of Waiheke Island. Their average age is 80, and at least a couple of members are in their 90s.

We learn this via a message in the credits at the end of Bryn Evans' (The Great Game) terrifically likeable Hip Hop-eration; New Zealand's very own crack at that genre which kicked off with Young@Heart in 2007, and which seems to produce a new entrant with every passing film festival.

Hip Hop-eration follows the crew, and their very driven manager/choreographer Billie Jordan, as they conceive of a plan to enter the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas, and then, astonishingly, actually make it happen.

Like all good documentaries, Hip Hop-eration is a film you wouldn't believe a word of, were it not a true story. It is almost impossible to convey the reality of watching these men and women, some of them decades into retirement, learning and performing creditable dance routines, and then taking Las Vegas by storm for one glorious night. There is joy in this film, enough personal history to lend some real flesh and pathos to the tale, and a very genuine celebration of lives very well lived.

All that was missing, and to me it was a glaring omission, was an acknowledgement and an explanation of what hip hop actually is. Fun though it is to watch the troupe co-opt a culture that was born in the melting pot of 1970s South Bronx, and transport it to the leafy and prosperous paradise that is Waiheke Island, perhaps a little background on hip hop's own rich and storied past might have led to a still stronger film. There were moments, as the troupe met a South Auckland crew to whom hip hop is a lot more than just dance moves and fashion, when Hip Hop-eration threatened to veer down a path even more interesting than the one it chose. Just a thought.

Hip Hop-eration (PG), directed by Bryn Evans.