AileyCamp is a nationally acclaimed summer program that uses dance as a vehicle for developing self-esteem, creative expression and critical thinking skills among sixth, seventh and eighth grade students ages 11–14. Conceived by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and run locally by Cal Performances, AileyCamp combines professional level dance training with personal development activities.
Over the course of the past decade, AileyCamp has changed the lives of 903 Bay Area young people. There have been 2,206 applicants; 1,812 interviews; and camp has been served by 244 volunteers (about 40 are needed per year). About 20,400 people have attended the final performances of the last 14 camps.
Since its inception in 1989, this vital program has reached thousands of youth across the country, providing direction and hope to children who are most in–need of knowing there can be a bright future. There are currently 9 AileyCamps across the United States: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Berkeley, CA; Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ; Seattle, WA; and Washington Heights, NY.
Have questions? See our full FAQ.
David McCauley, Director of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at
Welcome to the 2016 AileyCamp!
AileyCamp is an experience of discovery and adventure. Generations of hard work and dreaming have gone into making this a time of fun, learning, and discovery. I am referring to the dancers and artists of the past; Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Lester Horton, Harry Belafonte, Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Rita Moreno, my teachers, their teachers and others too numerous to name. Each one of them has contributed something to the exciting experience that awaits each AileyCamp student this summer!
To the class of 2016 AileyCamp: Remember who you are, imagine who you wish to be, and give it your all! Mr. Ailey always said to his dancers "You are all gods and goddesses!" It was his way to make us think about whom and what we are, and our responsibility to give our best. Those six words of affirmation also served to remind us of a longer quote from Mr. Ailey, "To be who you are and become what you are capable of is the only goal worth living."
Each day, one camper is selected to lead the entire group in the daily AileyCamp affirmations. This is a tradition that extends to all AileyCamps across the country. These encouraging words are:
1. I will greet this day with love in my heart.
2. I am a winner.
3. I am in control.
4. I think before I act.
5. I will listen to learn.
6. I will pay attention with my mind, body, and spirit.
7. I will treat others with courtesy and respect at all times.
8. I will treat others as I would like to be treated.
9. I will keep a positive attitude all day, every day.
10. I will not use the word "can't" to define my possibilities.
Download the AileyCamp Affirmations poster here.
Watch a group of AileyCampers move from the first week of camp to the grand finale performance.
Cal Performances launched Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp in 2002 to provide a positive experience for youth in our community. The camp was originally inspired by the work of the legendary dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, who founded his own dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which performs at Cal Performances each year. Designed and piloted in 1989 by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, AileyCamp is based upon the premise that the discipline of dance training has a positive impact on cognitive and interpersonal skills. AileyCamp now operates in 9 sites across the United States, with the Berkeley/Oakland camp the sole west coast location. Many students come here for their first exposure to a University environment.
Operated on a full scholarship basis, enrollment does not require prior dance experience though camp does attract students with an interest in dance, movement or athletics
AileyCamp provides classes in dance technique in four disciplines—modern (Horton technique), African, Jazz, and ballet—as well as classes in creative communication and personal development (such as nutrition, drug abuse prevention, sexual responsibility, decision making, and conflict resolution). The program offers breakfast, lunch, field trips, and other fun activities including a fashion show and a scavenger hunt. It operates from Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus Monday through Friday over a six-week period and culminates in a final performance for the community.
Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp 15th Anniversary
Now entering its 15th year, Cal Performances is proud to have had a profound and long lasting impact on almost 900 young people in the East Bay through AileyCamp. Over 60 youth ages 11–14 will participate in camp June 27–August 5, 2016. Campers will showcase their work in a performance for their families and the public on Thursday, August 4.
Cal Performances invites you to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at its culminating performance:
The Beauty of Their Dreams
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Tickets to the performance are free, and are available to the public beginning Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at the Cal Performances Box Office. Limit 4 tickets per person, and must be picked up in person at the box office.
Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp Staff
For an inside look at 2016 AileyCamp in session June 27–August 5, 2016, go to the Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp Diary for photographs, student work, and more.
AileyCamp Diary is where you can find out what's going on in the AileyCamp class of 2016 each week. Beginning June 27, 2016 we will begin posting photos, videos, and 2016 camper creations!
Your gift in support of AileyCamp will provide us the means to move forward confidently into the 2nd decade of our nationally acclaimed program for underserved youth in the East Bay. For six weeks, June 27–August 5, 2016, we bring 60 middle school students ages 11–14, to Cal Performances to participate in dance training and personal development activities.
Many of these children are facing difficult economic, academic and domestic issues. They attend AileyCamp free of charge. Our aim is not necessarily to teach them to become professional dancers (though many of them aspire to), but to teach them through the discipline of dance, important life skills that they will learn and share with others in their homes, classrooms, and communities. Our campers are dealing with deeply personal questions relating to their identities. Who am I? Where do I fit in? Dance has a way of allowing the campers to gain insight into some of these questions, to tap into their core being.
The professional–level dance instruction and the strong emphasis on personal development these children receive at AileyCamp is a process that instills in them a strong sense of self–esteem, self discipline, creative expression, and critical think skills. The progress they make in six weeks is truly amazing!
Your contribution today will help make this transformational experience possible for the children attending this summer. AileyCamp is a celebration of the arts, of life of the extraordinary potential of our young people. Join the celebration with your special gift to Cal Performances.
To learn more about AileyCamp, you can watch videos or read stories about the first nine years of camp.
AileyCamp! Watch a group of AileyCampers move from the first week of camp to the grand finale performance.
Inside ballet class (2010)
Rehearsal: I Wanna Be Ready (2009)
Group photo time! (2009)
California magazine: Stepping up
Inside Arts: The art of dance, the art of life [PDF]
Contra Costa Times: Changing lives, step by step [PDF]
San Francisco Chronicle: Hoisting the sail and having a ball [PDF]
Dance Studio Life: Making Alvin proud Part 1, Part 2 [PDF]
San Francisco Chronicle: Kids from the 'hood get breakfast, lunch and new attitude at Cal dance camp [PDF]