Billie Jordan knows how to get a crowd’s attention.
Her quick wit stole the show when she addressed the audience at the South Canterbury Rural Women New Zealand Fairlie Seminar on Monday.
Ms Jordan, who established the Hip Op-eration Crew – a dance group featuring members aged 72 to 96, spoke to the theme “Attitude is Everything”.
Her speech highlighted just that.
After surviving an abusive childhood and repeated trauma in the Christchurch earthquake, Ms Jordan decided to use her past experiences as a catalyst to improve the lives of others.
She formed the hip-hop group after moving to the North Island following the earthquakes.
Since then, she has watched the group compete at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas and the NZ National Hip Hop Championships three times.
The group, named the oldest dance group in the world by Guinness World Records, last year won its division at the Auckland Regional Hip Hop Championships.
Ms Jordan has also been named the NEXT magazine Woman of the Year.
She received a Queen’s Honour (MNZM) last year and in 2015 received the New Zealander of the Year award in the Local Hero category.
While life had not always been easy, it was a positive attitude that had helped secure the group’s many successes.
“With every problem is an opportunity,” Ms Jordan said.
“Ageing does have its challenges. There are four people [in the group who] have had open-heart surgeries.”
Six of the members required mobility aids, six were deaf, one was blind, another had recovered from a stroke and among them were 14 hip and knee replacements.
On top of that, all but two had arthritis, while about five had dementia, she said.
Ms Jordan provided a light-hearted summary of their story, received with roars of laughter from the audience.