Summer day camps stimulate dancers' creativity

By Johnny Jackson


The young girls quietly took their places on the dance floor and began their morning stretches.

Eleven youngsters, ages 6-9, are participating in the Second Annual Sugar and Spice Day Camp, hosted by the Atlanta Festival Ballet.

All week, they have been preparing for the camp's culminating performance scheduled for Friday.

The week-long camp is the second of two day camps held at the ballet company's studio in Stockbridge. The first, Ballerina Princess Day Camp, was held the week of June 14-18, for children, ages 3-6.

The camps are designed to give participants an introduction to ballet and jazz dance, combined with other activities, such as arts and crafts, according to Hayley Stone, a dancer with the ballet company.

Stone, whose mother was a dancer, said she became interested in learning about dance at age 3, through similar dance programs and camps.

"It was [about] being able to use creative movement and use my imagination in dance," said Stone, who helps teach jazz dance for the summer day camp.

"Dancing is my favorite part of camp," said Megan Turner, 8, wearing a necklace she created during camp. "I like playing with my friends. I do musical theater, and I like arts and crafts, too. I made this necklace."

Her mother, Amy Turner, of McDonough, described the camp as a day-long slumber party of sorts. She said her daughter, Megan, insists on participating in the camp each year with her friend, Abby Cornell, 8.

"It provides her a safe place to come for a week," Amy Turner said. "Just interacting with the other girls ... it's just a really positive environment for the kids."

Amy Cornell, Abby's mother, said she gladly takes her daughter to camp each morning. "I just like that she enjoys it," she said. "It gives her something to do, and they give them lots of activities."

She said the camp incorporates activities in dance, drama, and music. Campers also immerse themselves in musical theater workshops, tea parties, and spa parties.

"I can have some fun around my friends, and we get to dance a lot, be creative and do our own thing," added her daughter, Abby.