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 more than 1,000 Bay Area young people. There have been 2,663 applicants; 2,171 interviews; and camp has been served by 300 volunteers (about 30 are needed per year). About 25,700 people have attended the final performances of the last 18 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 eleven AileyCamps across the United States: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Berkeley, CA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; 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
Cal Performances

Welcome to the 2021 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 2021 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.”

Daily Affirmations
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.

Watch a group of AileyCampers move from the first week of camp to the grand finale performance.

AileyCamp Mission
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 11 sites across the United States. 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 Celebrating Our 19th Anniversary
Cal Performances is proud to have had a profound and long lasting impact on more than 1,000 young people in the East Bay through AileyCamp. 50 youth ages 11–14 will participate in camp June 21–July 30, 2021. Campers will showcase their work in a performance for their families and the public on Thursday, July 29.

AileyCamp 2021

Important Dates

June 21
First Day of AileyCamp
July 5
Closed (in observance of Independence Day)
July 29
End of Camp Performance, 7 pm
July 30
End of Camp Award Ceremony and Celebration

Finale Performance
Cal Performances invites you to celebrate the 19th anniversary of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at its culminating performance:

Deep Currents
Thursday, July 29, 2021
7 pm
Zellerbach Hall

Tickets to the performance are free, and are available to the public beginning Tuesday, July 13, 2021 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
David W. McCauley
Artistic Director

Joyce Ting
Co-Managing Director

Erick Lee
Co-Managing Director

For an inside look at 2021 AileyCamp in session June 21–July 30, 2021, check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for photographs, videos, student work, and more.

Support AileyCamp

Your gift in support of AileyCamp will provide us the means to move forward confidently toward the 3rd decade of our nationally acclaimed program for underserved youth in the East Bay. For six weeks, June 21–July 30, 2021, we bring 50 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.

Donate Now


To learn more about AileyCamp, you can watch videos or read stories from the first year of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp to the present. Visit our Behind the Scenes at Cal Performances Tumblr site to find out what’s going on in the AileyCamp class of 2021 each week. Beginning June 21, 2021 we will begin posting photos, videos, and 2021 camper creations! To see posts from this and previous AileyCamp seasons Behind the Scenes at Cal Performances Archive tab.


California magazine: Stepping up
Inside ArtsThe art of dance, the art of life [PDF] Contra Costa TimesChanging lives, step by step [PDF] San Francisco ChronicleHoisting the sail and having a ball [PDF] Dance Studio Life: Making Alvin proud Part 1Part 2 [PDF] San Francisco ChronicleKids from the ‘hood get breakfast, lunch and new attitude at Cal dance camp [PDF]


Parents/Guardians Please Note
What is Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp?
Who Is Eligible?
When Is AileyCamp?
What Does It Cost?
Where Is AileyCamp?
Who Sponsors AileyCamp?
How Would I Get To AileyCamp Every Day?
What Are The Activities?
What Would I Wear?
Who Is Your Staff?
How May I Apply?
Who Do I Contact?
When Is The Application Deadline?
What is The Interview About?
When Will I Know If I Have Been Selected To Attend AileyCamp?
Who Has To Attend The Mandatory Orientation?
When Is The Finale Performance?

Parents/Guardians Please Note:
In order for us to consider your child’s application they MUST:

  • Submit their application by the due date: Friday, February 26, 2021.
  • Attend an interview session. You will receive advance notice of the date. The applicant’s interview is in lieu of an audition as applicants do not need to have any dance training to apply.
  • Submit documents certifying they have had a physical examination between May 4, 2020 and May 4, 2021, and are current in immunization shots. Submitting immunization records alone is not sufficient. The appropriate medical forms must be submitted on Tuesday, May 4, 2021Please do not submit medical information until you are requested to do so.
  • Attend the mandatory parent/guardian/camper orientation Tuesday, May 4, 2021 if they are selected or on the waiting list.
  • NOT APPLY if they have scheduling conflicts, for example sports practices, games, other performance commitments between the hours of 8:30am and 3:30pm, or you have vacation plans between Monday, June 21 and Friday, July 30, 2021.
  • Applicants will be notified no later than Friday, April 16, 2021 of their application status. (Please do not call or email about your status unless you have not heard from us by 5pm April 16, 2021.)

Applications available January 4, 2021.

Please remember that just as with any sports team, dance company, theater company, job, school or camp, Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp has limited space and for a variety of reasons everyone who applies may not be enrolled into AileyCamp. Students who are not enrolled this year are encouraged to apply again next year.

What is Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp?

An intense, fast-paced, summer day camp where youths are immersed in dance, and come to respect the discipline of dance as a physical activity that requires athletic ability comparable to skills demanded by any sport. Campers also increase their leadership skills and enjoy a variety of athletic and social activities.

The camp was inspired by the work of legendary dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, who founded his own New York-based dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Kansas City, Missouri was selected as the second home for the company in 1984, plans for AileyCamp began. Kansas City, Missouri held the first AileyCamp in the summer of 1989.

Who Is Eligible?

50 students (ages 11–14) attending schools in the Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland area school districts will be selected from the applications received. Prior dance training is not a consideration for admission.

When Is AileyCamp?

AileyCamp will begin on Monday, June 21, 2021 and end on Friday, July 30, 2021. Camp begins at 8:30am, and ends at 3:30pm, Monday through Friday. These are six action-packed weeks! Campers are expected to attend each day, unless they are ill. Please do not apply if you cannot commit to attend during the above mentioned dates or times. If you have any vacation plans during this time DO NOT APPLY.

What Does It Cost?

AileyCamp is entirely tuition-free for all participants. Instruction, dance attire, field trips and meals (breakfast and lunch) are provided. Transportation is provided to Oakland students; Berkeley students must provide their own transportation to and from camp.

Where Is AileyCamp?

AileyCamp will be held at Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall, Hearst Memorial Gymnasium, and adjacent buildings on the University of California, Berkeley campus, Telegraph and Bancroft avenues.

Who Sponsors AileyCamp?

AileyCamp is co-sponsored by Cal Performances in association with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that sponsors the activities of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, and The Ailey School.

How Would I Get To AileyCamp Every Day?

Transportation is provided for Oakland students with three pickup points (TBD) for AileyCampers living in the Oakland Unified School District. The bus will pick campers up in the morning and drop them off at the end of the day at the designated Pickup/Drop-off locations.

What Are The Activities?

Daily classes in a variety of dance techniques, creative writing and personal development (including peer discussion groups). Periodically there are field trips and visiting artists. Final performance is held at the end of camp for family, friends and supporters.

What Would I Wear?

Boys – gym shorts, T-shirts, and ballet slippers
Girls – gym shorts, T-shirts, tights, leotards, and ballet slip
All of the AileyCamp attire will be provided.

Who Is Your Staff?

Male and female dancers, former Ailey Company or Ailey-trained artists, from New York and the Bay Area, and other professionals dedicated to making AileyCamp a great experience.

How May I Apply?

Interested students should either email your application request to or call the AileyCamp office at 510.642.4630 and request us to send an application to your mailing address. And new this year, download your applications! Once you receive the application, fill it out and fax, email, or mail via USPS it to the address listed below.
Applications available January 4, 2021.

Who Do I Contact?

Berkeley/Oakland AILEYCAMP at Cal Performances
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720–4800
Attention: David McCauley

Phone: 510.642.4630
Fax: 510.643.6707

When Is The Application Deadline?

Friday, February 26, 2021

What Is The Interview About

There is nothing the applicant needs to prepare for their interview, they will know everything we ask. For example we may ask, “How are things going at school?” Or, “What do you plan to do after you graduate from high school?” And so on. If your child is a bit nervous because they’ve never done an interview before, please let him or her know there is no need for worry — there are no wrong answers — they are going to have a great interview!

When Will I Know If I Have Been Selected To Attend AileyCamp?

Applicants will be notified by mail no later than Friday, April 16, 2021.

(Please do not call or email about your status unless you have not heard from us by 5pm Friday, April 16, 2021.)

Who Has To Attend The Mandatory Orientation

If you are notified that you are on the 2021 Active Roster, or on the 2021 Waiting List, it is a requirement that you attend the mandatory orientation meeting. Students must be accompanied by a parent, or legal guardian.

When Is The Finale Performance?

7pm, Thursday, July 29, 2021. Admission is free, but tickets are necessary. Tickets may be obtained in person at the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus in advance.