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Cal Performances celebrates 20 years of Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp

BERKELEY, Calif. — Since 2002, more than 1,000 Bay Area middle schoolers 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 medium through which we can learn about ourselves and the world around us,” said Jeremy Geffen, executive and artistic director of Cal Performances. “And as we know from experiences with AileyCamp over the 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 took daily classes in ballet, modern, jazz and African dance. They also took courses in creative communication and personal development, discussing conflict management and media literacy, among other topics. Each student received dance clothes and shoes, round-trip transportation, and breakfast and lunch at the campus dining halls.

Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp, one of nine AileyCamps nationwide, grew out of 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 young people to be their best.

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

The campers presented their latest dance performance, Believe that we canThursday, July 28, at Zellerbach Hall on the Berkeley campus.