Amanda Lipitz’s New Documentary, titled Step, begins at a new all-female charter school called Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, or BLSYW. The school’s dance team is referred to as the “step team.”
The film follows these girls as they are empowered by their families, teachers, counselors, and coaches to strive to win a step championship for the first time, and achieve the goal of the school, to be one of an entire senior class accepted into college.
Winner of a Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance, Step is the perfect reminder that, together, and without giving in to those who hate or spout bigotry, a community can help everyone in its rise and succeed.
The hashtag #blackgirlmagic is being spread by those who have seen the film, not just because one of the graduates of the charter school featured in the movie had it on her cap at graduation, but because the movie itself is about truly inspiring young ladies, who are almost all women of color.
The three main characters of Step are Blessin Giraldo, who has an extreme personality and drive, but gets in her way, Cori Grainger, a straight-A student who aspires to a highly competitive college, and hopes for a scholarship to make it possible, and Tayla Solomon, who has perfected an eye roll for her mother, a dedicated correctional officer who somehow always finds time to support the step team and its members.
Step was filmed at a time when Baltimore was still attempting to make sense of Freddie Gray’s death, in which six officers of the city’s police department were charged with second-degree homicide and acquitted, which led to unrest across the city. It is being released in an environment where the president called the “inner cities” a “disaster” where “African-Americans and Hispanics are living in hell.”
Step is one of those documentaries that both fascinates and uplifts. It will no doubt be placed on a shortlist for interpretation through feature film, but before that happens, see the lethal ladies of Baltimore do their thing on stage. Watch them and those who support them creating goals offstage and tenaciously going after them. The name step is not about just the dance, but also the forward movement these powerful ladies are committing to, every day.