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Interview with Billie Jordan

Billie Jordan is a true inspiration to many. She’s had a life filled with ups and downs, and now Hollywood is planning to make her life into a blockbuster movie. She is the founder of The Hip Op-eration Crew™ – a hip hop dance crew consisting of senior citizens aged 73 to 98 years old. Read her interview and learn more about her and her speaking career.

What got you interested in dance and hip hop?

I had two left feet, couldn’t dance to save myself and had very limited knowledge about hip hop before I set up the world’s oldest hip hop dance group. So I taught myself how to hip hop dance via YouTube and read everything I could get my hands on to increase my knowledge of hip hop. I chose dance and hip hop as a vehicle to reduce the stigma of ageism because dance is a positive way to engage people and hip hop is the one type of dance old people usually don’t do. It was a tactic to challenge stereotypes in a fun and unique way. It was also a way for me to take old people outside of their comfort zone and connect them with young people in a way which hadn’t been done before.


Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

To communicate and reinforce values of teamwork and the magic you can create when you work together to challenge the status quo and overcome obstacles in a creative way. My story is fun, engaging, unique, authentic, emotional and visually interesting. It also has wide appeal as everyone can identify with the underdog and everyone has had an old person in their life. There are themes and topics within my story which really resonate with a huge range of people whether they are corporate business people, academics, members of parliament, labourers or stay at home mums, children or caregivers.


What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your job?

After presenting to a large and very conservative corporation, I received all these emotional emails from business men in the audience who wanted to share their own personal stories with me and were desperate to be heard by someone who understood and cared. Audiences are always emotional when I present, but the volume and intensity of the outpouring from these particular men was quite surprising. I think they just wanted to put aside their restrictive and conservative corporate culture for a moment and engage on a truly authentic and human level. The Human Resources department had been trying for years to ingrain the company’s corporate values into the staff’s day to day activities and were so delighted to see it finally penetrate and achieved in an authentic and meaningful way that wasn’t ‘corporatey’. It’s very powerful when an audience hears someone speaking their truth; as it resonates into their consciousness in a way that is not forgotten.


What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

I love seeing the audience transform in front of me and feel inspired and happy and energised about life afterwards. It’s a huge privilege to come into a strangers life, move them on an emotional level and be able to leave them feeling great and excited about life and their work. I also find it very liberating. As a childhood abuse victim, my parents went to great lengths to silence me to cover up their actions. Abusers are very clever at silencing their victims and ensure they are cut off or disbelieved by anyone who the victim may confide in. Although my abuse is only a very short and small part of the story I share and I don’t identify my parents in any way and haven’t had the same surname as them for nearly three decades, they are still trying to silence me to this very day. This is normal behaviour for abusers but I won’t allow it to silence me. As the saying goes, you have to be strong because you don’t know who you’re inspiring.


What is your favorite topic to speak on?

I love speaking about teamwork, ageism and also embracing diversity and what we can do to make positive change within our environments regardless of our skill set or the perceived obstacles in our way. I also love turning people’s viewpoints upside down in order to help them embrace challenges to create something extraordinary.


Who and what inspires you most?

I’ve always had huge admiration for Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey. Although they have had completely different life experiences, they have both shown huge courage, strength and resilience in the face of adversity and hostility. Their honesty and commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others has changed our society and the well being of the world for the better, forever. I am also inspired by the ordinary people who strive every day to overcome the obstacles and hardships life throws at them and especially admire the people who speak up for others who have no voice.

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