Pre-teens dance through summer at Atlanta Ballet's Ailey Camp

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It's a six-week summer camp devoted to dance – but the middle schoolers attending Atlanta Ballet's AileyCamp this year will take away lessons that extend far beyond their new routines.

AileyCamp is presented as a partnership between Atlanta Ballet and the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and provides 100 local middle schoolers (ages 11 to 14) from underserved communities the chance to attend a six-week summer camp for free. 

Not only do the pre-teens study various types of dance every day, but they also learn communication and leadership skills. According to AileyCamp national director Nasha Thomas, "Alvin Ailey, the summer before he died, wanted to start a program to reach out to the young people in the community, give them something positive to do during the summer, and give them something that helped them develop."

This year's camp takes place at the Martha E. Stilwell School of the Arts in Jonesboro, and culminates in a final performance on Saturday, July 6, at 7 p.m.

Two years ago, we spent a morning with some of the campers taking part in Atlanta Ballet's AileyCamp, and we were blown away by their talent and maturity. So, we decided to visit again this year and spent the morning in Jonesboro learning more about this incredible opportunity for local youth (and learning some new moves, too!).