Press Release – Hip-Operation
The Hip Op-eration Crew: The World’s Oldest Hip Hop Dance Group was today invited to represent New Zealand and all senior citizens in the world by performing at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas in August. However, they don’t have the funds to travel to the USA to accept the invitation; which would involve performing at a massive global event that is available for broadcast in over 40 countries around the world.
The mega dance crew consists of 37 senior citizens from Waiheke Island aged 66 to 96 years old. After doing their debut performance at the NZ National Hip Hop Championships last weekend they have suddenly catapulted to fame – attracting fans from all every corner of the planet.
“We would love to promote the youthful spirit of our country to the rest of the world and show that wherever you live and no matter what your age or physical ability; with the right attitude, anything is possible,” says 79 year old Hip Op-eration Crew member, Brenda Long.
The Hip Op-eration Crew need NZ$250,000 to travel to the USA to be able to perform at the World Hip Hop Championships.
“We’re hoping we can get paid work to raise the NZ$250,000 by doing advertising commercials for a sponsor or promoting their brand. Otherwise, there may be five individuals somewhere out there prepared to donate $50,000 each. We’re open to any idea or job in order to be able to accept this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Whatever sum of money we are able to raise, we will be giving 10% of it to the Otara Youth Programme we have set up – as that’s what this is ultimately about. Our Crew’s motto is Respect and Honour Youth – and we do that through hip hop and by showing young people that no matter what limitations you face in life – you should always pursue your dream,” says Long.
“We are using the crowd funding site Give a Little to raise donations. People can donate as much or as little as they like wherever they are in the world. Our donation line can be accessed via the Give a Little website at www.givealittle.co.nz/org/hipoperation,” says Long.
The Hip Op-eration Crew members are all neighbours on Waiheke Island. Crew members include Violet, a 96 year old in a wheelchair; four people who use other types of mobility aids (including a zimmer frame and walking sticks), 14 members in their 80s and early 90s, many people who are deaf, and one member who is legally blind. The average age is 76 years old and there are eight men and 29 women in the Crew – including a mother (96 years old) and her son and daughter-in-law (both 69 years old).
“Only a small handful of acts are specially chosen to do a tribute performance at the World Hip Hop Championships, so it is the biggest honour any hip hop dancer could ever have. The fact that we, a bunch of senior citizens on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, have been chosen to perform is incredible.
“The World Hip Hop Championships has over 43 different counties competing in it and is broadcast on MTV to around 40 countries. Everyone who is anyone in the global hip hop community attends the event or watches it on television,” says Long.
A story about The Hip Op-eration Crew was broadcast to 80 million listeners on the BBC World Service on Friday and this week they will be filmed by an international television news agency that services 150 million viewers from across the globe. In addition, a feature documentary film about The Hip Op-eration Crew is currently in development and follows the dance troupe during the first eight months of 2013. It will be in cinemas in May 2014.
Otara Youth Programme
The Otara Youth Programme is currently being established to link up our aged hip hop dancers with young hip hop dancers from Otara (mainly from the Dziah Dance Academy) so our Crew members become their hip hop grandparents. All money that goes into the Otara Youth Programme pays for the young kids from the Dziah Dance Academy (and other identified at risk kids) to come to Waiheke Island for fun activities with their hip hop nanas and poppas such as kayaking, fishing, bush walking, zip lining – and lots of cuddles and cups of tea. The Hip Op-eration Crew have already formed a very tight bond with the kids at the Dziah Dance Academy – many of whom have no grandparents in NZ (as they are either back in the Pacific Islands or died early in life) or have ever had an adult show them respect. Our belief is that, the first step to addressing child poverty and child abuse in New Zealand is to change people’s attitudes towards young people and to show them respect and honour them in any way we can. Hip Hop dance is being used as a vehicle to achieve this attitudinal change and to help inspire everyone to overcome limitations.