I’m so pleased to know that AileyCamp is still going strong

Kenny Pervine and Karin Ronning-Meagher

Back in 1990, when I was a young dancer, I had the incredible opportunity to work for AileyCamp, a summer dance camp for ‘at risk’ kids. The kids who participated were young teens who were struggling at school for any number of reasons. This was one of the first years of AileyCamp. I taught Improvisation. It was both amazing and challenging at the same time. I struggled because I was young, a bit nervous, didn’t look much older than my students, and came from a very different background. To be honest, I was a skinny, short white girl. It took time to build trust. This is what is wonderful about dance. It is a conduit for change. Camp was 6 weeks long and by the end, we had learned to work together, support each other, trust each other and trust the process. We cobbled together a short work using improvisational structures which was performed on stage alongside other class presentations for families. I had parents come up to me afterwards to tell me how important the camp had been for their child, and how I personally had impacted their child. I felt very humbled by that. In return, I shared how their child had impacted me. Nearly 30 years have passed and I can still remember their names. Now I am in my middle years, and a mother of two boys. One of my boys is the age that my Ailey campers had been. He also dances and performs in a youth dance company. If I were to do it all again, I’d apply some concepts I’ve learned as a Montessori parent about prepared environments and child-led learning. I’d be more comfortable with the controlled chaos of leading teens through improvisation. I’ve often wondered about those students, wondered how they have fared. Our time at dance camp changed us all. Through the discipline of dance, my students experienced self growth, empathy and self determination. This is the kind of massive impact dance and theatre can have on a young person’s life. I’m so pleased to know that AileyCamp is still going strong.

Karin Ronning-Meagher

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