These Summer Camps Help Kids Find Their Groove

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American Dance Festival’s summer programs expose children to a range of dance styles – from hip-hop to jazz and contemporary – alongside local choreographers and internationally recognized guest dance troupes

Instructor Jose Velasquez leads a group of children in an American Dance Festival hip-hop class.
Jose Velasquez teaches hip-hop moves to Viola Leslie, 6, Kendra Colorado, 7, Francis Elmore, 5, and Kefira Schwartz, 6, during an hourlong class at American Dance Festival’s Samuel H. Scripps Studios. Jose, who has 17 years experience in dance instruction, also leads hip-hop lessons for ADF’s summer camps.

By Renee Ambroso | Photography by John Michael Simpson

American Dance Festival offers summer camps for children ages 6 to 17 years old at its Samuel H. Scripps Studios on Broad Street. ADF’s Jennifer Scully-Thurston, who manages studio programming and community engagements, says the organization expects to host more than 100 campers this year, based on 2022 enrollment numbers.

Two children follow Jose Velasquez's instructions in their American Dance Festival hip-hop class while caregivers look on.
Ava Elliot, 7, and Viola follow Jose’s lead while caregivers look on through a studio window.

ADF also partners with other troupes and guest instructors to plan specialized camps, like two weeklong “shadow” camps led by trailblazing dance company Pilobolus, a hip-hop focused week taught by Tatiana Desardouin (a self-described “artivist” and the choreographer and founder of Passion Fruit Dance Company) and a weeklong Ballet Hispánico camp. These programs are followed by three weeklong camp sessions that cover a range of dance styles – from modern and hip-hop to jazz and African – each day.

Find more area summer programs in our summer camps guide!

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Renee Ambroso

Renee Ambroso is the editorial assistant of Durham Magazine. She was born and raised in Durham and attended UNC-Asheville to earn a degree in literature, food systems and culture studies.
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