AileyCamp Miami is not your typical summer camp.
Every day, 100 campers learn about leadership and self confidence. They repeat about 10 declarations that remind them of their strength -- both inner and outer.
They also learn about dance.
Zomora Delarosa, 16, incoming junior at New World School of the Arts High School, participated in the summer camp three years ago and is now attending the Alvin Ailey School in New York on a scholarship.
AileyCamp Miami, which is celebrating its fifth year, is a summer camp for Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ middle school students who are interested in dance. It’s free and open to about 100 students.
The camp’s objective is to provide a platform for personal development using dance, director of education Jairo Ontiveros said. The program isn’t designed to create the next big dancers. It focuses on discipline, self purpose and self esteem before campers transition into high school.
Offered at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, AileyCamp Miami focuses on tackling three types of challenges -- socio-economic, academic and personal development -- and about 95 percent of campers come from underserved populations.
“We want to be there to make sure they have the tools and the resources they need,” Ontiveros said.
Zomora was shy when she started at AileyCamp Miami, but that changed about halfway through. “In a sea of middle schoolers, it’s easy to see the ones who act out. She was the opposite,” Ontiveros said. “She became more outspoken; she helped other campers.”
The Alvin Ailey School’s mission is to make dance accessible to young people and adults through dance training, innovative community outreach and arts-in-education programs, according to its website. The school’s educational department and AileyCamp Miami are currently forming a relationship to provide scholarships. Zomora is the first former camper to receive this scholarship, Ontiveros said.
Zomora took her first dance class -- hip hop -- when she was about 6 years old. “I came home and told my mom that’s what I was going to do,” she said.
Since then, Zomora’s exposed herself to modern dance, ballet and jazz, among others. She was also trained professionally at New World School of the Arts.
She’s one of 50 students attending the Ailey School’s Summer Intensive Program, thanks to hard work, determination and a scholarship provided by the school and summer camp.
“The camp teaches them a lot,” said Yvette Delarosa, Zomora’s mother. “Not only technique and dancing, but also how to be a leader.”
Campers repeated declarations such as “I am strong” and “I am a leader.”
“The affirmations kept me going every day,” Zomora said. “They were helpful words to keep me moving toward my dream.”
Delarosa said Zomora has never wanted to quit or take a break from dancing.
“I got her into dancing because I saw her dancing in the living room when she was 6 or 7 years old,” she said. Delarosa enrolled her into a class when she realized she came up with her routine on her own.
“She’s gonna love it,” Zomora’s mom said. “She’s always dreamed of going there.”
Her determination, Ontiveros said, is what got her to New York.
“She’s a very humble person,” he said. “She wants to do it all in dance. It’s been beautiful to see her progress.”
Although Zomora’s interested in law as a future profession, she says for now, she wants to continue dancing.