Week 1 — June 25-29
Field Trip Day: OSCS Sailing
After a well rounded week at AileyCamp, AileyCampers were treated to a field trip at the Berkeley Marina. Founder Anthony Sandberg of OCSC Sailing welcomes the 2012 Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp for a day of nautical adventures. With team building exercises led by Mike Martin and eating a tasty lunch, all campers set sail around the bay.
|AileyCampers get ready to go sailing||Co-owner of OCSC Sailing Anthony Sandberg helps to put on life vests on AileyCampers|
|All dressed||One group photo before the campers take off|
|The AileyCampers are excited to go sailing||The AileyCampers are excited to go sailing|
|The sail is up!||AileyCampers return from sailing|
|Team building activity||Team building activity|
|After sailing and group activities, the AileyCampers are ready for lunch||More group exercises to get the AileyCampers to work together as a team|
|More group exercises to get the AileyCampers to work together as a team||Even the AileyCamp staffs get into the group activity|
Classes are in session!
A vital segment of the AileyCamp curriculum is the Personal Development class. During these sessions, instructor Shawn Nealy teaches campers life lessons, such as self-confidence, communicating with peers and conflict resolution. At the beginning of the class, Nealy went over the course "expectations," being sure to explain the difference between an expectation and a rule: "When I hear the word 'rule,' I think, 'That's something that I'm going to break.' But when I hear the word, 'expectation,' I know that this is what is expected of me, what I should be doing." The campers nodded in affirmation as they read the list on the board.
|Personal Development Expectations|
In addition to Personal Development, the campers take Creative Communications, in which they will be given various writing assignments to provide healthy outlets for creative personal expression. Last but not least, the campers participate in four dance classes-ballet: jazz, African and modern.
|Instructor Erica Padilla-Morales answers questions about herself in her Creative Communications class||Priya Shah teaches the basics of ballet|
|Group C ("Classy Creative Colors") has posted their community agreement||Campers learn from each other on the ballet bar|
|Mama Naomi gets campers warmed up in her African dance class||Campers love the high energy of Mama Naomi's class|
Meet the C-A-M-P-ers
|C-lassy Collective Colors|
|M-ost Valuable Dancers|
Welcome Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp 2012!
On the first day of AileyCamp 2012, campers gear up and get ready to go! Their adventure began with an orientation, where the campers got to know each other and named their groups.
C-lassy Collective Colors
M-ost Valuable Dancers
After lunch, the campers walked around Zellerbach Hall to receive their camp supplies-shoes, leotards, backpacks, etc. At the end of the day, they had their first dance class, where they learned some choreography to prepare them for the weeks ahead.
When we asked some of the campers about how they feel about the first day of camp, this is what they said:
"I'm looking forward to learning how to dance" - Anna, 14
"I don't know what to expect but I don't want to wear leotards" - Ben, 13
"I'm looking forward to dancing and getting to know new friends" - Kaya, 12
"I like the food and excited for dancing" - Akeyra, 14
|AileyCamp instructor Derrick Minter gives an orientation talk on the first day||AileyCampers listen attentively during orientation|
|AileyCamp volunteers assist with the distribution of supplies||AileyCampers line up to receive their uniform leotards|
|AileyCamper writing down her name on her new AileyCamp sweatshirt||AileyCamp volunteers tailor the campers' uniforms|
|AileyCampers received their fitted ballet shoes|
Week 2 — July 2-July 6
Friday Field Trip: Scavenger Hunt
The field trip for week 2 is a scavenger hunt on the UC Berkeley campus. Headed by AileyCamp staff, AileyCampers venture out to solve riddles and find campus landmarks using a map. Through the scavenger hunt, the campers learn how to communicate with each other and work as a team in order to complete the missions created by AileyCamp staff.
Prior to the scavenger hunt, the AileyCampers receive a visit by a special guest - the Artistic Director of PostBallet, Robert Dekkers. Mr. Dekkers gives a master class to the eager AileyCampers and the dance they learn today will be incorporated into the finale performance on August 2th, 2012.
|Robert Dekkers (center) teaches AileyCampers some dance moves|
|Working together as a group|
|Working together as a group|
AileyCamp Alumni Volunteers share their experiences and advice
|(l-r) Malik Smith, Samantha Swails, Derrick Minter and Benet Robinson|
Malik Smith, AileyCamp Volunteer (AileyCamper in 2011)
AileyCamp was a great experience for me. I had a lot of fun and I learned lots of new things about myself. AileyCamp taught me to push myself and never give up. My message to the campers is it will be hard at first but you have to keep going because in the end you will be proud that you didn't give up, and when those curtains come up and you perform in front of all those people and you hear them applaud you, that will be the greatest feeling ever.
Samantha Swails, AileyCamp volunteer (AileyCamper in 2008)
When I was younger, I didn't think much of myself. I wasn't confident at all in my abilities or talents, and it led me to a period of self-loathing. When I first arrived at AileyCamp, I wanted to prove something, I wanted to break out of my rut and anguish; but at the same time I was afraid that I would somehow ruin myself in the process. Nevertheless, I worked as hard as I could until my tears and sweat mixed together in beautiful and simple effort and balance. This camp began my journey of emotional development and self-fulfillment. Without it, I never would have begun my search for courage in my talents, and I'd be barely half the young woman I have become today. AileyCamp taught me, most honestly, that I will never use the word "can't" to define my possibilities; no matter how hard the challenge I have learned to face it using my intelligence, passion, and resourcefulness. My message to new campers: do not take this place for granted. Come with focus and a thirst for new experience and you will learn more than you ever thought you could. This is your chance for self-discovery as it was for myself and many others. Throughout your young lives and onward, strive to learn, love, and create.
Benet Robinson, AileyCamp Volunteer (AileyCamper in 2011)
I attended AileyCamp and I had a great time. There was always something to do, and it was fun in dancing classes. My time here was great, they teach you how to try new things, how to respect yourself and how to have fun and meet new people. I learned to respect others and myself and it helped me to see if I want to be a dancer when I get older. My message to the AileyCampers is: have fun, try new things and meet new people.
AileyCamp Class Spotlight: Modern Dance with Instructor Derrick Minter
|AileyCamp modern dance instructor Derrick Minter|
As a former student, performer, instructor and rehearsal director with the Ailey II Company, Derrick Minter shares a wealth of knowledge about Mr. Ailey, his choreography and his legacy with the campers. "I teach the basic elements of the Horton technique in my class - parallel positions and linear work. I've already seen in the campers a hunger to learn more, and I enjoy seeing them take chances. Sometimes they feel uncomfortable, but they face that challenge because one of our mottos is, "I will not use the word 'can't' to define my possibilities." They're looking forward to the performance, they know they're going to be a part of something special. My faith in the campers has never failed me yet - they seem to take charge in the knowledge and the spirit of sharing. As a teacher, I'm inspired to give back all that was given to me. And the campers keep me learning, they keep me on my toes, they teach me to embrace what's happening in that moment and to think more deeply about what I teach. Alvin Ailey believed you can learn so much from young people. I sure do! The instructors, and now the students we're teaching - we're all Alvin's branches reaching out into the world."
Week 3 — July 9-July 13
AileyCamp Fashion Show
The annual AileyCamp fashion show is a much anticipated event during camp. AileyCamp staff and campers alike let their hair down, strutting down the white marley runway on Zellerbach Hall stage. Everyone had their moment in the spotlight as campers showed off dance moves and modeled some exceptionally original wardrobe combinations!
|Racks of costumes are available for AileyCampers to choose from|
|AileyCamp volunteer helps to organize the clothes|
|There is even an accessories table|
AileyCampers walk down the runway in singles:
And even quadruplets:
While some campers walk the runway, the rest serve as cheerleaders and a wonderful audience.
Video: Techniques of Performance class
AileyCamp modern dance instructor Derrick Minter teaches choreography from one of Alvin Ailey's work, Night Creatures.
AileyCamp Staff Spotlight: Lashay Massey
|AileyCamp Administrative Assistant Lashay Massey|
I wanted to work for AileyCamp because its mission aligns so closely with my own passions and goals for public service. However, I have come to realize while interacting with youth and observing camp on a day to day basis that AileyCamp is so much more than public service. It brings in young people with stories and ambitions and motivates them to realize their own sense of worth and excellence. At AileyCamp, youth endure a transformative experience by learning to reach far beyond their personal challenges and experiences and bring out the very best of themselves not only on stage through creative dance, but also in their own personal lives. At AileyCamp, youth are afforded the opportunity to have a life-changing experience!
AileyCamp Open House
|Parents, guardians and friends observe AileyCamp|
This week is AileyCamp's open house. On Wednesday, family and friends of campers were taken to the various classes to get a behind-the-scene look at AileyCamp. In group rotations, they made their way through morning and afternoon sessions of all four dance disciplines (modern, jazz, African, and ballet), Creative Communications and Personal Development. For many parents and friends, this truly was an eye opening experience.
Listen to what some of the parents and friends have to say about AileyCamp:
"It's great to have an understanding of what's going on in the dance classes. I'm very impressed by the professionalism and the organization of AileyCamp". - Bob Garrison
"It was very interesting. My child was very enthusiastic about coming to classes every morning and now that I've seen the classes, I have a greater understanding of why he loves coming". - Shephard Lest Keelah
"You all give more than just dance. AileyCamp is bigger than dance. It teaches community and collaboration in a beautiful way. It's an awesome exposure to dance, too, of course. It's a huge opportunity and they are fortunate to be here". - Khadija Fredericks
The AileyCampers are also excited about dancing in front of their parents, guardians and friends:
"I think that having the parents there made us, as a group and as a whole, be on top of our game." - Kayla, Group P
"Today was fun and better because we are getting used to an audience." - Evan, Group A
"Camp was fun today because we became more professional and we got to show parents what being a camper is all about." - Ketwan, Group A
"It was fun having parents watch us dance." - Mierrra, Group C
AileyCamp Class Spotlight: Creative Communication with Instructor Erika Padilla-Morales
|Erika "Miss Ishkabibble" Padilla-Morales, Creative Communications Instructor|
Erika opens her class with a self-reflective writing assignment focusing on "the inner critic," "the inner defender," and "the inner guide"- instincts that lead a person to action or non-action. Campers are writing in journals they've created. "The journals are for the campers to reflect on their camp experience. Journaling helps the campers communicate with themselves, each other and the world." She continues, beaming, "I'm excited about this year's ensemble, they're very intelligent and mature. I also sense a lot of perfectionism, they all strive to do their best. The students will be co-creators in what we do for the final performance and I can't wait to see what they come up with!" Seeing her passion for teaching, I ask her what inspires her to teach. She answers bluntly, "Bad teachers. They pass negative attitudes on to students who come to feel they 'don't' do this or 'can't' do that. My goal as an educator is to turn 'can't' into 'can' through artistic expression. My message to the campers - keep your promise to yourself to be and do your very best!" - Erika "Miss Ishkabibble" Padilla-Morales, Creative Communications Instructor
Week 4 — July 16-July 20
Read the news story about AileyCamp in the San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News — Dance Card: Cal Performances' AileyCamp gives aspiring young dancer freedom to learn
AileyCamp Finale Performance Audition
Auditions are a regular fact of life for professional performers and AileyCampers experienced the process firsthand at the AileyCamp auditions. Many campers had never participated in an audition before and said they felt extremely nervous and anxious, but that they also felt curious and excited. As a community, the AileyCamp staff encouraged and supported the campers before they took turns on stage showcasing what they've learned. As the auditions progressed, the campers became good sports, cheering each other on. Although some campers realized that they needed to work harder to learn choreography, it didn't stop them from dancing. And when called on to perform other pieces, many returned to the stage with a stronger drive and focus as well as a more open, positive attitude - qualities that all professional dancers strive to have.
After the auditions, AileyCamp held a talent show in the afternoon. If any campers felt discouraged about their efforts in the auditions that soon turned to excitement as they prepared to show off their other skills to peers and staff. Campers demonstrated that they can sing, play instruments, rap, recite monologues and do other forms of dance. The talent show gave campers the opportunity to let their personalities and talents shine. It was a time of pure fun, delighted surprise and excitement.
|AileyCamp staff help AileyCampers to put on their numbers for the audition|
|AileyCamper lined up for the audition|
AileyCamp Staff Spotlight: Personal Development with Instructor Shawn Nealy
|AileyCamp Personal Development Instructor Shawn Nealy|
Shawn's Personal Development classes cover everything from conflict resolution to body image to nutrition, but she also focuses on the power of the individual, "which is the root of all creativity."
Recently, she's been working with the campers on recognizing their strengths, their influences, the loved ones who have shaped them and their ideas of the future. Students are encouraged to build on their self-knowledge, which allows them to be inspired and to create.
These values are apparent in Shawn herself as shares those who inspire her. "People like Alvin Ailey, people like Michael Jackson - they were geniuses of their times and they made their audiences witness to their greatness."
Shawn has a message to the campers which she hopes will help them as they prepare for the final performance. "There is a percentage of campers that work very hard, but there is also a percentage that let their attitudes get in the way of a collective goal. There is no progress without struggle, but they have the tools to get past the obstacles and the nervousness and all the problems and they will all put on a beautiful performance."
AileyCamp Staff Spotlight: Tamara Nicole McCree and Dave Abrams
|AileyCamp Group Leader Tamara Nicole McCree|
Stepping onto the stage at Zellerbach Hall eleven years later felt so warm, so open. Nothing like the feelings I first felt being an AileyCamper. As a young girl I felt nervous, anxious, unhappy, and excited all at the same time. I knew I was coming to dance but I had no idea this would change my life. I thought I knew it all. Nobody was going to make me do anything I didn't want to do. I was the definition of a "Bad Camper". They had to talk to me everyday about hair, nails, clothes, etc. I even went so far as to write on the bus!!
Week four was my turning point. I realized my mom fought for me to get here for a reason. So, I told myself I would give it 100%. I went to my classes and gave it my all. Came neat and clean everyday. On Performance Day, as that curtain went up and I looked around at my peers for the last time, I felt invincible. I could and would conquer any obstacle that came my way. I left Zellerbach as a different person.
Now being back in this atmosphere, coming onto the stage that gave my life a whole new meaning, I feel appreciative, thankful, invincible, strong and at home. I'm reminded everyday that I overcame the obstacles I faced here. And I've also overcome a lot of obstacles because of AileyCamp. Those same feelings I felt the last day of camp stuck with me all these years. The sky is the limit. "Dance was made for the people and it should be given back to the people." AileyCamp was made for me and now I'm here to give it back - to the kids, my community, and myself. Ailey runs through my veins, an everlasting beat in my heart. - Tamara Nicole McCree
|AileyCamp Group Leader Dave Abrams|
The skills required to fulfill the Aileycamp Group Leader position pull from various areas of experience. It is key to have an understanding about the environment that these children are raised in and how to create a cohesive team of campers who have very different personalities. He or she must be able to model good behavior, demonstrate class etiquette, dance vocabulary, and apply the lessons learned from our personal development and creative communications classes in order for campers to implement these lessons into their daily lives. Because of this camp and the skills expected from the Group Leader, I have become more knowledgeable about the development of children and have been blessed with the chance to witness the power that dance has on their lives. This year has also reminded me about staying committed to my goals as an aspiring performer and to continue fighting through of obstacles that life gives us each day.
I am amazed by the campers' intellect, perseverance, and their ability to lead one another this year. We are now at the hump of our six week session and I think this show of colors will be a suitable group for this bunch, a bunch filled with colorful personalities and limitless imaginations. I know that the work that we all are putting in is certainly an investment to positively change the lives of almost every camper who is undergoing this amazing journey. Alvin says it quite perfectly, "Dance is for everybody...dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people." I know that most of these kids may choose to seek careers other than a professional dancing career, but the purpose of this camp does not quite lie there. As we expose them to the power of dance, one can see them starting to think about making more appropriate choices in every aspect of their lives: their health, relationships, passions, and so much more. I am honored to be help in giving the gift of dance to the youth. It is a gift they will never forget. - Dave Abrams
Week 5 — July 23-July 27
Read this exciting news story about AileyCamp in the Oakland Tribune and Berkeley Voice
Oakland Tribune — Berkeley, Oakland dance camp teaches esteem, discipline
AileyCampers are working hard this week, getting all the elements ready for the finale performance on Thursday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m.
AileyCamp Daily Affirmations
As we get closer to the finale performance on August 2, 2012, the campers recite their daily affirmations more than ever to prepare them for the rehearsals ahead. Here are the AileyCamp Daily Affirmations to keep the campers strong and focused.
|AileyCamp Daily Affirmations|
Ballet Class: A Performance in the Making
For AileyCamp volunteer Samantha Swails, the camp has been tremendously inspiring. A camper from 2008, this rising senior at Oakland School of the Arts loves working with youth of this particular age group. "I love hearing what they have to say. At this age, you really get inspired to do what you've always wanted to do. Adults can overlook this age group, but I find them inspiring."
After Samantha finished camp in 2008, she was asked to return as a volunteer, but was unable to do so until 2012 because of her involvement with her art school and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011. As a talented thespian, Samantha and her classmates put together a stage adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial, which they performed in Edinburgh last summer. She was happy to return to camp as a volunteer this year, saying, "I enjoy giving back. They've given me so many tools that I use everyday." Part of her duties as a volunteer involves acting as a teacher's assistant during the dance classes. Ballet instructor Priya Shah asked Samantha to help the campers with their acting abilities. The ballet piece that they will be performing is a tribute to Trayvon Martin and all young victims of gun violence, set to Michael Andrews and Gary Jules' cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World." Samantha plans to teach the campers about how the body is influenced by outside energy, hoping that this concept will help them with this emotionally-charged piece.
Though there are no particular roles in this ballet piece, it does feature a soloist who represents victims of gun violence such as Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant. To play this part, Priya chose a talented 11-year-old boy named Pierre Grigsby-Olson. Like Samantha, Pierre will be attending the Oakland School of the Arts in the fall. He said he was planning on studying theater, but thanks to AileyCamp, he has changed his mind and would rather study dance. Though he has no prior ballet experience, Pierre does have experience with African and Haitian dance forms, in addition to practicing hip-hop after school daily. AileyCamp has been a fantastic experience for Pierre-he's made a lot of new friends and learned new styles of dance. "Jazz dance is not easy," he says, but he quickly added, "I expect challenges. Nothing should be easy here."
|AileyCampers working hard in rehearsal|
Week 6 — July 30 - August 3
Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp 2012 at Cal Performances comes to an end
"Last night's performance was absolutely phenomenal. It was emotional, it was...pretty close to perfection." AileyCamp director David McCauley was overjoyed with the outcome of the six-week summer camp. "I loved the arc of the evening and the way the dances flowed into one another. You see individuals working something out, and then it all comes together."
After the show, David spoke with campers' parents and friends, as well as donors to the AileyCamp program. "When they talked about the show, tears would start to well up in their eyes. And that's how you know there was a real exchange of energy."
On Friday morning, the campers returned to go over the previous night's recital. Each camper has one-on-one time with his/her group leader and each instructor. There is a small graduation ceremony for the campers and their families, where completion certificates are presented and four particularly outstanding campers are awarded with signed AAADT posters.
"I love seeing how enthusiastic they are to get up and dance for the last time," David says of graduation. "It's nice to watch them say goodbye. Many of them live far from each other, so they won't see each other until the reunions." AileyCamp hosts two reunions—one in November, in which David takes the kids to see Mama Naomi's dance company perform; and one in April, in which they see the AAADT concert at Cal Performances. With a combination of an outstanding staff and eager campers, AileyCamp 2012 was a rousing success.
Here are pictures of campers getting ready for the finale performance.
And here are photos from the performance.
The group leaders were so proud of the campers as they watch the campers perform on stage.
AileyCamp Staff Highlight: Priya Shah, Ballet Instructor, & Zari Le'on, Jazz Instructor
|Priya Shah, Ballet Instructor|
|Zari Le'on, Jazz Instructor|