CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – It was a year of upheaval and protest across America.
And 2020 was also a year that young people in our area wanted to see change in Northeast Ohio.
But how to express that frustration and hope for change was a particular challenge for a group of young women with the Buck Out Cleveland Dance Company.
For the young women in Buck Out Cleveland, the desire for change that exploded in 2020 had them looking for one thing…Freedom.
And that need for freedom from the strife of the world became a video…an outlet for young women who see dance as not only a form of expression but as a way to be fearless.
Helping to nurture fearless women is what Buck Out Cleveland is about: A way to help young women grow personally in confidence and strength so that they can meet the challenges of the future.
The challenges facing them are what their video project was all about.
“For us it was important for us to use our art and how we feel with our frustrations and the girls really came and gave the ideas and they gave the suggestions and they worked hard to put that piece together in little under a month and they really put their passion and heart into that project,” Buck Out Cleveland Founder LaChanee Hipps said.
The project has been viewed thousands of times and for the young women who helped to create they say they hope people understand that this was about lifting up the spirit and helping people realize that there is common ground for change.
“It had so much emotion it’s like you could feel the emotion though the screen on the tv, and I didn’t expect to feel that much emotion through the video.”
Kaylen Bannerman is a senior at Euclid High School and she is fearless.
She says dance was something she always enjoyed but being a part of this group for four years has opened eyes to new possibilities.
A big part of the Buck Out Cleveland mission is to help bridge the gap between higher education opportunities at historically black colleges and universities and students in Northeast Ohio.
Kaylen is going to live that dream this fall.
“I got accepted into the program as a dance major at the Alabama State University I’m very very happy about that. I looked at the letter and I had to read it a couple of times and like this is really happening and, it’s just the beginning it’s just the beginning of my future.” Kaylen said.
Recruiters from HBCU’s visit frequently. Miles College near Birmingham Alabama visited Buck Out Cleveland in March.
To go to college and major in dance, or even to be selected to be a part of a celebrated HBCU dance team takes not only skill but something that the young women in this group call….”letting out your inner Beyonce.”
Kaylen can explain what that means.
“The hair is flowing, and her head is up high and it’s all about women empowerment,” Kaylen said.
Those lessons are not lost on the younger members of the group because dance has helped them building confidence and self-esteem.
“In the beginning of dancing I’m not who i am now i was totally different and as time went with the help of all my sisters in the sisterhood with my captain and my coach. They helped me grow so much, and I feel like I can be myself when dancing,” performer Jaeden Germany said.
Being yourself, being strong, and learning to overcome challenges is what the folks with Buck Out Cleveland hope to pass on to the young women who they mentor.
Dance is freedom, you can be yourself and be confident in how you’re feeling…with help from your new sisters, folks can look at you as someone who can be fearless and an agent for change.
“Life can throw a lot at you and if you’re fearless enough to stand up with a costume on and makeup and hair and be able to move and be fearless in that aspect you’ll be fearless to conquer the hospitals the banks raising children a marriage whatever comes your way,” Hipps said.
Click here to learn more about Buck Out Cleveland.
Watch the full video below.