Arts & culture, Campus & community, Events at Berkeley, Performing arts

Cal Performances celebrates 20 years of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp

The six-week summer program promotes personal development through dance for Bay Area middle school students

young dancers smile and dance on stage
Cal Performances is celebrating its 20th year of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

Since 2002, more than 1,000 middle school students from the Bay Area have participated in Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp, a six-week, full scholarship summer program produced by UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances that promotes personal development through dance.

“Performance is a means by which we can learn about ourselves and about the world around us,” said Jeremy Geffen, executive and artistic director of Cal Performances. “And as we know from experiences with AileyCamp over these past 20 years, this ability to foster growth and empathy can be transformative at an often-tumultuous time in young people’s lives.”

This year, nearly 50 campers from the Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and Albany unified school districts attended daily classes in ballet, and modern, jazz and African dance. They also took classes in creative communication and personal development, discussing conflict management and media literacy, among other topics. Each student was provided with dancewear and shoes, round-trip transportation, and breakfast and lunch in the campus’s dining halls.

Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp, one of nine AileyCamps nationwide, grew from Cal Performances’ nearly 60-year relationship with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. AileyCamp director Patricia West said the program is a transformative experience that inspires youth to be their best selves.

“AileyCamp is a supportive environment where campers leave feeling empowered and engaged in the world around them,” said West. “Our team of instructors and administrators, many of whom are professional artists in their own right, are dedicated to every camper’s success.”

Campers put on their final dance performance, Believing We Can, on Thursday, July 28, in Zellerbach Hall on the Berkeley campus.

Learn more about AileyCamp on Cal Performances’ website.