By Michael Daniels
Staff Reporter

Audie Belcher: The Good Witch and her granddaughter Anastie Taylor: CEO of the Squad Girls, as Dorothy in the ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’ production of ‘The Wiz’.

During the December holidays, the ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’ eased on down the yellow brick road, as the group presented the award-winning Broadway Musical ‘The Wiz’, at the Collingwood Arts Center. An ambitious undertaking for anyone, the group dressed in dazzling costumes, reenacted the familiar story of Dorothy, a little girl who takes for granted the good life she has at home, until she loses it.

It is only after she has a wild dream, she wakes up in a strange land, encounters three new friends with problems of their own, a wicked witch, and a fake wizard that she comes to realizes that all that glitters is not gold. Most of all she comes to realize there’s no place like home. The play, ‘The Wiz’, teaches a true-life lesson that all ages can appreciate and enjoy.

Squad Girls United by Dance was started one year ago by twelve years old Anastie Taylor, who portrays the main character Dorothy in the play. She was helped by her mother Anique Davis: The Head Coach and CFO of ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’. She played Evillene the Wicked Witch of the West, as well as auntie Em, in the show. The Squad Girls’ production of ‘The Wiz’ had an all-female cast except for the part of uncle Henry, which was played by Mrs, Davis’ husband.

The fantastic Cast of ‘The Wiz’ presented by the ‘Squad Girls United By Dance’ team at the Collingwood Arts Center in December of 2019

When asked, why did the group decided to do a production of ‘The Wiz’, Mrs. Davis started reminiscing about her own childhood and watching the movie version of ‘The Wiz’ over and over again. “I was fascinated with the story,” she said. “As we approached our first anniversary, I wanted to do something besides having a banquet. While talking it over with my husband he suggested we do a production of ‘The Wiz’ instead. It was a great idea and it’s been a wonderful experience for me and the girls. We practiced six days a week for a month to get ready for the show.”

‘My daughter Anastie loves to dance and she has a great voice as well,” said Mrs. Davis. “She was dancing with another team, but she was being bullied by some of the team members. Having enough of that she asked me to help her start her own dance team. I said OK and we went to work to make it happen. She called up some of her friends and family and invited them to join in with her. I made the arrangements for a rehearsal space and took care of all the business details and from that effort ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’ emerged.”

Don’t bring Anique Davis the Head Coach and CFO of Squad Girls United By Dance, who played Evillene, the Wicked Witch pf the West no bad news!

She added, “Currently we have 15 girls in the group and we are a no-profit community organization. The purpose of this group is to provide a safe place where young people can go with their friends, support each other and have fun”. “There is so much bullying going around these days, it’s becoming a predominant part of our culture. At Squad Girls we have a zero-drama policy. I support the girls and their parents; in return the parents support us and we all support each other. I still believe in the saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. As a group, we are all working together for our children’s well-being and we are one big happy family. Our production of ‘The Wiz’ was a group effort and we are very proud of the results.”

In 2019 the ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’ performed at various community events around town throughout the year and have already been booked for more performances in 2020.

For more information on the ‘Squad Girls United by Dance’ call Mrs. Anique Davis at 419-705-9558.

The original play ‘The Wiz’ debut on the Broadway stage in 1975 and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. In 1978 the play was made into a motion picture starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson and has become an African-American family favorite over the years.