Meet the UK’s OLDEST hip hop dancer who at 86 years old is busting a move


An 86-year-old great grandmother is proving that age really is just a number as she is dubbed the oldest hip hop dancer in the UK.

Hilary Williams was first introduced to the genre by chance, when she signed up to take part in what she believed to be a traditional waltz troupe in Plymouth.

The great grandmother was stunned to discover the group had actually come together to create a commemorative Mayflower festival, organised by Roots Up!.

The show, set to take place on 19 November in The Piazza, will feature everything from MC-ing to graffiti, rapping to poetry and spoken word.

And the dance of choice? Hip hop.

Always keen to take on a new challenge, Hilary decided to give it a go and as it turns out, is a natural.

Pictured: Hilary Williams with Toby G

She has since fallen in love with hip hop, immersing herself in a new community of all ages which has given the 86-year-old a new lease on life.

“Hip hop is now adding to my life, and health, in ways I never could have imagined,” she says.

“I thought at 70 my dancing days were over, but quite the opposite – at 86 I’ve started again! 

“I decided I had better do something for my brain so learnt the piano but then also wanted to keep fit so hip hop is great, it’s one for the brain and one for the body. 

“You’ve got to put your body and soul into it and it takes you to another level – it’s lovely.

“The most unexpected thing is that I feel I’ve been accepted as part of the family… it feels like a party every day.

“I think I’m happier than before, I’m just delighted by it all.”

Roots Up! is run by Toby G MBE, who is also the co-founder of Street Factory, Plymouth’s hip hop theatre, and has members from the age of eight to 86.

Pictured: Hilary Williams

Toby said: “For me, it doesn’t matter what age you are. 

“Part of our hip-hop culture is acceptance and embracing humanity, in all its forms.

“Working with Hilary has been an absolute pleasure, she is so much fun and has so much spirit and dedication, she is an inspiration to everyone.”

The Roots Up! performance will feature themes that reflect the sensitivities of the Mayflower story and the core values of Street Factory: freedom, humanity and the future.

Pictured: Hilary Williams with Toby G

It is a two-hour production with multiple creative elements including music and dance performances, with breakdancing on the menu.

Hilary and Toby are now working together to encourage other older people across the UK to get involved and give the dance style a go.

The great grandmother added: “For any older people thinking of giving hip hop a go, I would say, do it – it is fabulous!

“The great thing about the hip hop community is that once you’re involved, you’re in and so welcomed.

“I am blessed to truly feel part of it now.”

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