AileyCamp, the full-scholarship day camp, will provide approximately one thousand inner-city students in 10 cities across the United States this summer with an inspiring six-week program that uses the art of dance as a means to stretch their minds, bodies and spirits.
AileyCampers, ages 11-14, will learn important life skills through classes in a variety of dance techniques, as well as in personal development and creative communication. Participants cultivate respect for themselves and others, learn the importance of setting and achieving goals, gain experience in decision making and carve out their own identities within a supportive framework that gives them an important foundation for the future.
“I remember being inspired by the Ailey company as a middle-school student when I saw Alvin Ailey’s Revelations as 12-year-old boy in Miami,” said Artistic Director Robert Battle. “I really do feel that experience motivated me on my journey and I’d like to ensure that other young people can have that same transformative experience. Now, being at the helm, it’s an honor to continue Mr. Ailey’s vision that ‘dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people.’”
Founded in 1989, AileyCamp gives underserved students a supportive environment to use dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem, self-discipline, creative expression and critical thinking skills. The camp’s curriculum includes daily technique classes in ballet, Horton-based modern dance, jazz, and West African dance. Personal development and creative communication classes deepen student’s awareness of their potential and discuss topics such as nutrition, conflict resolution, and career development. Camp tuition, uniforms, dance attire, field trips, breakfast and lunch are provided. Daily affirmations, such as “I will not use the word ‘can’t’ to define my possibilities,” serve to guide them on a path to becoming productive and motivated individuals.
Mayor Cory Booker and Judith Jamison with Newark AileyCampers.
Photo by Jack Grabow
AileyCamp Newark returns, July 2 – August 10, after its successful launch last summer, and AileyCamp Washington Heights, July 9 – August 17, will celebrate over 20 years of providing local students with life-changing experiences. Mayor Cory Booker made a special visit to the inaugural class of Newark AileyCampers to encourage them to fully enjoy this new opportunity, keep an open mind, explore new ideas and enhance their potential. In May, select AileyCamp Newark and Washington Heights students excitedly performed for the first time at Ailey’s annual Apollo gala and charmed the audience with a dance inspired by Artistic Director Robert Battle’s The Hunt.
“Alvin Ailey recognized that dance could inspire young people in life-changing ways and be an agent in helping them set and achieve goals,” explains Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, National Director of AileyCamp and former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “As I travel throughout the summer visiting camps from Newark to Miami and everywhere in between, I am inspired by each student’s growth. It’s a joy to see AileyCamp’s positive impact on their development as young adults.”
In addition to Newark and Washington Heights, AileyCamps provide a safe environment to motivate and educate students and is already in full swing in Atlanta, GA; Kansas City, MO; and Kansas City, KS (June 4 to July 13). The program is scheduled for Berkeley, CA and Chicago, IL (June 25 – August 3); Miami, FL (June 25 – August 4); Boston, MA; Bridgeport, CT (July 2 – August 10).
AileyCamps will culminate with a final performance for family, friends and community leaders where campers showcase their hard work in an original production of specially choreographed dances, poetry readings and theatrical improvisation. Although AileyCamp is not meant to be a training ground for professional dancers, some students are awarded scholarships for further study at The Ailey School or pursue training at other accredited dance schools and have later performed with professional dance companies. Former Chicago AileyCamper Solomon Dumas built upon the skills he obtained at camp and decided to attend The Ailey School which lead to dancing as a member of Ailey II.