“It’s a great feeling being the underdog and then taking home a score younger crews would be proud of,” 96-year-old dancer Kara Nelson (aka Kara Bang Bang) said after last weekend’s Auckland Regional Hip Hop Championships.
The Waiheke Hip Op-eration team of seven dancers scored first place in the Masters Division and received a score just 0.8 points behind New Zealand crew Bubblegum – the world champion junior dance crew.
“Because I’m a bit unsteady on my feet these days, I performed with my walker which my homies in the crew blinged out for me,” said Kara after the competition.
“Everyone overlooked us as competition in this event because of our age”.
The crew was scored 5.82 by international judges, the highest score for the evening being 7.7 and the lowest 5.3.
“Achieving a big personal goal is a great feeling but when you achieve a group goal it’s so much more satisfying, as none of us could have done it without each other. We’re a tight group of friends and it shows on stage.”
“We want to show everyone, especially the young people, to never let obstacles get in the way of achieving your dreams.”
The Waiheke crew, aged between 71 and 96, is down from the initial 88-strong Hip Op-eration that flash-mobbed in Auckland three and a-half years ago before a group of 27  went on to perform at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas in 2013.
In 2014, an award-winning New Zealand film Hip Hop-eration was made about this trip, and the group’s evolution from humble beginnings in MORRA Hall to the world stage.
Coach Billie Jordan says that late last year, eight members (one of whom was not chosen) had asked to be part of a committed group of dancers.
They have been rehearsing four times a week for their new routine to a track called Graveside Jam, created for the crew by Optimus Gryme aka, island dubstep pioneer Charlie Brown and The Sound Room for the past two months.
“It was great to see the change in people’s opinions of us from ‘aren’t they cute’ and ‘good for them – old people need to exercise’ to ‘wow – they’re actually really awesome hip hop dancers – a competitive crew to try and beat’,” she said after last weekend’s competition.
Ms Jordan has recently been appointed as a board member of Age Concern Auckland. • Liz Waters

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