In a synchronized blur of movement, rhythm and smiles, all seventy-nine AileyCampers hit the stage as an audience of more than 1,200 people, the largest audience turnout of any AileyCamp performance in the country, filled the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall for AileyCamp Miami’s final performance, Genesis.
In the early afternoon of August 8th, AileyCamp Miami participants gathered on the stage of the Knight Concert Hall for their much-awaited technical rehearsal. Genesis, treated like every other professional production that is presented in Miami’s acoustically-superb venue, had the young performers experiencing the very real and demanding process that veteran dancers put into practice to produce a first-rate performance. All summer long AileyCampers learned teamwork and discipline, and showed evidence of those skills throughout the rehearsal as they helped one another with quick costume changes, whispered to each other words of encouragement and waited patiently for technical cues to be charted.
The final performance opened with choreography to the song “I’ve Been Buked,” a musical excerpt, influenced by the genius of Alvin Ailey himself, taken from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s signature choreographic masterpiece, Revelations. The campers revealed to an amazed audience the fruits of their hard work as they performed in remarkable unison their abstract movements, with twists and turns of hands and bodies reaching powerfully upward.
Following the opening piece, John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center, gave a warm welcome, introduced the AileyCamp Miami Directors and announced that AileyCampers would return to the Adrienne Arsht Center in October, not as performers but instead as guests for Oprah Winfrey’s presentation of the Broadway musical The Color Purple. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, all 79 AileyCampers and their parents will have the opportunity to see a matinee performance of the soul-stirring musical based on the classic Pullitzer-prize winning novel by Alice Walker and Oscar-nominated film by Steven Spielberg. Richard’s announcement of this gift was reinforcement to the graduating class of AileyCamp 2009, standing on each side of the stage, that the performing arts and camp experience would not be forgotten once they left the Arsht Center campus.
After the exciting news was met with boisterous applause, the lights were dimmed once again to set the stage for the 60-minute journey of original created dance work in the genres of modern, jazz, and ballet choreographed by AileyCamp’s dance instructors. Each student also presented an individual spoken word piece written by them, representing the culmination of the work each camper accomplished in the Personal Development and Creative Communications classes.
Each piece was also uniquely costumed. While the white tutus with purple sashes heightened the ballerinas’ graceful and elongated movements, the colorful dress and head gear intensified the West African movement that filled the stage. Empowered by the audience’s thunderous applause and each other’s encouraging words, the boys of AileyCamp took center stage for a special tribute to the late King of Pop. Dressed in the signature Michael Jackson white shirt and black pants, the audience applauded and shouted with enthusiasm as the choreography saw the white gloves slide across the stage. The middle-schoolers impressively took their role as performers seriously throughout the performance. Poised for their finale, the entire AileyCamp Miami Company rushed the stage for one last number.
The culmination of what had been more than 200 applications received and four weeks of intense hard work, turned into a bittersweet evening as 79 AileyCampers gathered on stage for a final bow to a standing ovation. Led by their camp director, Natasha DeVaughn Rigby, AileyCamp Miami 2009 appropriately ended the performance just like they had every other day of camp for the past 4 weeks—by proudly reciting AileyCamp daily affirmations. Fittingly, the last affirmation echoed the impetus of a dedicated staff and the wholehearted efforts of the participants: “I will not use the word “Can’t” to define my possibilities.”
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