"I just remember meeting so many amazing women, it was just incredible and their stories and the diversity of them. And the crying, like a beauty queen when they get crowned," Billie Jordan says of receiving her NEXT Woman of the Year Supreme Award last year.
Jordan had been recognised for her incredible work empowering the elderly, and in particular elderly women, with her creation of a hiphop dance crew for 60-pluses.
With no experience in either dance or working with the elderly, Billie Jordan set up The Hip Op-eration Crew, officially recognised as the world’s oldest dance crew – and in turn created a global movement to break down the stigma of ageing and help give seniors a new lease of life. It’s thanks to Jordan's enthusiasm and dedication to leading this revolution that has seen the rights to her life story sold to Hollywood and the Hip Op-eration Crew became an international sensation.
With a background in public relations, Jordan had moved to Christchurch for a fresh start when the devastating 2011 earthquake hit. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, she headed north to Waiheke and found herself isolated in a new community, where she reached out to the local elderly.
She needed friends, they needed a project, so she created the world’s oldest flash mob. It was a runaway success, with Jordan then going on to create The Hip Op-eration Crew.
Jordan reflects on her NEXT Woman Of The Year win: "For my dance crew it was just a fantastic achievement that we could all share because a lot of the dancers in my dance group have come from a generation of women where they had to stay in the kitchen. They were tied to the oven basically and they were given really limited opportunities in life.
"So just to think that we’re part of a group of women who are being trail blazers in terms of reducing the stigma of ageing... I’m really doing something that’s not just for ageism but for our gender. You can be really gangsta in your 90s when you’re a female.
Jordan urges women to support one another more.
"If you do have success in life as a female, don't pull the ladder up from under you."