CAS/AileyCamp's 20/20 Illumination
Is there anything more beautiful than children expressing themselves through art? Not in my book. On August 12, 80 of the most beautiful children imaginable performed a powerful tribute to Judith Jamison, the outgoing artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, through dance, music, poetry, and visual arts at the culminating performance of the Children’s Aid Society Ailey Camp.
Art programs help to nurture children and provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of a creative art form. This performance marked the 20th year of the partnership between The Children’s Aid Society and the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation that brings CAS/AileyCamp to children in Washington Heights and Staten Island. Dedicated to helping young people develop self-discipline of the body and mind, CAS/AileyCamp is but one example of Children’s Aid’s commitment to bringing high quality arts programming to the children we serve.
It is amazing to watch how much children can grow in six weeks. Most of the students in the camp had no dance training when camp began, which made the power of their performance all the more impressive. The grace and honor these dancers displayed in “Our Prayers,” a dance that directly honored Ms. Jamison, brought tears to many in the audience. And the exuberance and energy of “Lighting Up Their Spirits,” in which West African dances came to life, made the children’s joy contagious. Performing before an audience of peers, siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins is an unforgettable experience, and these AileyCamp-ers let us know how much the evening meant to them.
Ms. Jamison, seated in the front row of Columbia University’s Miller Theater, was swept up by the beauty and emotion of it all, responding to the children’s grace and harmony and honoring them with her applause and gestures of praise. CAS/AileyCamp’s “20/20 Illumination” was an evening memorable for the audience, but unforgettable for the young dancers.
Richard R. Buery, Jr.
President and CEO
The Children’s Aid Society
New York City