If you haven’t had the chance to see Hip Hop-eration – a film that has pushed perceptions of retirement (and even the very concept) perhaps like no other – there’s still time to see it on disc. No “pulling back” from life or activity to be seen here; far from it.
The story of how 27 keen seniors on Waiheke form the world’s oldest dance troupe, the Hip Operation Crew, and beat the odds to reach the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas is inspiring. Boasting an average age of 80, many have mobility or hearing issues. One is legally blind. Yet they continue to prove that, yes, you can even krump from a wheelchair if you so choose.
Billie Jordan, their untiring coach with a knack for geriatrics, remembers childhood time spent with her own gran as a quiet oasis. She tells how, after enduring the Christchurch earthquakes, she fled to another safe haven among the elderly up north.
We meet some of the most endearing ninety-somethings ever: Maynie Thompson, 95; Kara Nelson, 94; Terri Woolmore-Goodwin, 93. By the movie’s end you may find yourself feeling like they’re extended family, and you may wish they were: what they accomplish is extraordinary.
“We honour you,” a member of Otara’s Dziah Dance Academy tells the palpably nervous, excited hip hop grandparents before they head onto the Vegas stage.
With good reason: Hip Operation’s chosen motto, Respect and Honour Youth (RHY), has been met with respect in return, and they have forged the most impressive intergenerational (and intercultural) bridge you’ve ever seen.
No matter their age, they continue to be their true selves. When Thompson – a former peace activist who once marched across the US for disarmament – walks through the line of kids triumphantly holding up two fingers and saying “Peace” to everyone, you know she’s doing as she has always done.
This time she gets the respect she deserves.
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