Since 1958, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has earned a reputation for passionate performance and innovation. The company’s mission is to “use the beauty and humanity of African-American heritage – and other cultures – to unite all people.” When the group performs at the Auditorium Theatre this week, it will be a homecoming for Chicago native Solomon Dumas. He’s one of 32 dancers in the national touring company. Dumas was just 13 years old when he first saw the acclaimed group at the Auditorium Theatre. A year earlier, he trained at AileyCamp Chicago, a summer day camp program for at-risk kids in 10 cities across the United States.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is known the world over for its vibrant company of dancers dedicated to preserving the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience. Founder Alvin Ailey was a pioneer of programs promoting arts in education, particularly those benefiting underserved communities. For more than 30 years, a nationwide summer program has also been offering inner city children the chance to enrich their lives through dance. We hear from the national director of AileyCamp, Nasha Thomas, and one of this year’s campers, Jada-Ann Parker, on what this program means to all those who participate.
The lives of more than a thousand underserved students have been strengthened thanks to Ailey Camp Miami at the Adrienne Arsht Center. The six-week program strives to provide a safe and artistic environment for campers through the arts. “We want them to understand they are powerful young people,” said Jairo Ontiveros with Ailey Camp Miami. That’s what’s instilled in the minds and hearts of the more than 115 students taking part in the free paid scholarship camp offered to all Miami-Dade County public school students.
Using the power of movement, the legendary dance company Alvin Ailey is touching lives of at-risk youth through AileyCamp, a six-week summer camp. It gives kids a creative outlet to feel good about themselves. Joining us was director of AileyCamp Chicago, Lizette Rayford and a current student in the program, Kristen Roberts.
Of all the mantras Anai Espinoza and her fellow campers recite each morning at AileyCamp, the eighth grader’s favorite is this: “I am in control.” “It makes me believe I have the power to choose the right thing,” she said. Anai is one of a thousand students in 10 states this summer attending AileyCamp, a free six-week program for youngsters in financial need or with academic, social or family challenges.
When the choreographer Troy Powell was a student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's school, more than forty years ago, he was struck, he remembered recently, by "these men that looked like me, these men that danced!" The other night, when he again found himself moved by a young man who looked like him, he was less surprised: Powell had handpicked the boy for the resemblance. The occasion for the body double was Powell's newest work, "Testimony," choreographed for the Ailey School's fiftieth-anniversary gala, at Lincoln Center.
AileyCamp is presented as a partnership between Atlanta Ballet and the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and provides 100 local middle schoolers (ages 11 to 14) from underserved communities the chance to attend a six-week summer camp for free.
A dancer isn’t always born a dancer. Sometimes a mother has to step in. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago with his single working mother, Solomon Dumas was involved in community theater and interested in the arts. But dance wasn’t much of a presence in his life until his mother signed him up for AileyCamp, when he was 12.
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Standing on the stage where she first learned how to dance, 17-year old Dymon Smith softly describes her passion for the arts. “I found my heart in dance. It’s been my breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I can’t imagine my life without it,” she said. Smith is a student at the New World School of the Arts but it was on this stage where she voluntarily spent six weeks of her summer mentoring and training younger dancers at AileyCamp Miami. Just a few years ago, Dymon was an Ailey camper. She was 10-years old when she was introduced to the power of dance.
Some talented students danced the weekend away in Downtown Miami, as AileyCamp held its 10th summer day camp. For the past decade, the free, six-week event has been welcoming students ages 11 through 14 and has strived to provide them with a fun, safe and artistic environment. AileyCamp Miami uses dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem, creative expression and imagination.