Freedom: Buck Out dancers let loose in powerful show of protest, hope

Like so many arts organizations, Buck Out Cleveland, a dance group founded by LaChanee Hipps to help area young people use dance to attain success in life, was forced to stop practicing last March with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The dancers, ranging in age from 14 to 26, spent much of the summer idle and unable to express themselves after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

The time off also meant the group did not have time to put together their usual year-end dance show. So, Hipps asked her dancers what they wanted to do.

“After coming back from having to close for three months, I sat the girls down and asked abut what our end-goal was going to be,” Hipps recalls. “The girls were adamant about doing a tribute to Black Lives Matter and those lives lost due to racial injustice.

Hipps says the group a wanted to provide an empowering and enlightening message to the community. So, the Diamond Dance Company of Cleveland, a troupe under the Buck Out name, got together and conveyed a powerful message—dancing to Beyonce’s “Freedom.”

After two months of choreographing and planning, the dancers filmed “Freedom” on Cleveland’s streets in August. “They were frustrated, and the girls wanted to express themselves,” Hipps says. “We wanted to give the dancers a meaningful and productive outlet to respond to all the things happening in their lives.”

The video was released on Dec. 20 on YouTube and has gotten more than 1,600 views.

Diamond Dance Company of Cleveland provides a low-barrier safe space for Cleveland metropolitan African American girls and women to bond socially, release emotionally, and express creatively through various styles of dance. The Cleveland company is an offshoot of Chicago's Diamond Co., which has the mission to cultivate confident, ambitious young women, resulting in increased community morale and fearless performers.

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