Arsht Center uses dance to teach kids life lessons

Arsht Center for Performing Arts

Children are leaping, twirling and dancing their way through summer camp at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County as the AileyCamp Miami celebrates its fourth season of serving Miami-Dade children.

The six-week camp for public middle school students targets underserved youth who may face barriers in their academic, socio-economic or personal development. The program is tied to the Arsht Center’s mission of exposing the community’s youth to the transformational power of the live performing arts. Since its launch in 2009, the program has hosted almost 300 students. For many of these children, attending the camp is their first opportunity to visit the Center and receive instruction from some of Miami’s best dance instructors, as well as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater alumni.

The Arsht Center provides campers free transportation from as far away as Homestead and North Miami as part of the full scholarship program, along with breakfast, lunch, dance attire and field trips to round out the summer fun. The campers take classes in ballet, jazz, West African dance, Horton-based modern dance, personal development and creative communication. The Center also invites family, legal guardians, friends and the South Florida community to celebrate in the accomplishments of the campers at a final performance on the Knight Concert Hall stage that typically attracts more than 1,500 guests.

Although the Center runs the camp and assumes all of its costs, AileyCamp Miami is one of 10 AileyCamps around the country. It is particularly dear to the Arsht Center and the community now that Miami’s own Robert Battle is the artistic director of the nationally acclaimed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

National supporters of the arts are taking note of the Arsht Center’s strides to raise the bar for arts education. Recognizing that AileyCamp Miami has impacted hundreds of students from all corners of our diverse community, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) this year awarded the Arsht Center a $45,000 matching grant to support this summer’s camp. The Arsht Center is the only Florida organization to receive an Arts Education grant in NEA’s latest grant awards announcement.

To add to this exciting news, Miami- Dade residents and supporters of the arts now have the opportunity to join the NEA in supporting AileyCamp Miami. Donations as little as $1 or $10 can be made to support AileyCamp Miami campers on Miami-Dade County’s new <>, a website that supports local nonprofit arts organizations. The Center also has created a new AileyCamp Encore Circle of private donors who support individual campers with $3,000 scholarships and other levels of giving.

AileyCamp Miami is one example of the Arsht Center’s signature Arts Education and Outreach programs. Other initiatives include Learning Through the Arts, which exposes every fifth-grader in Miami-Dade County Public Schools to a free live theater experience through the rock musical Rock Odyssey, free Family Fest activities, and master classes taught by visiting artists, among other programs.

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