Hundreds of KC kids start 6-week program aimed at bringing performing arts into urban core

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More than 200 children are beginning a six week dance program designed to introduce disadvantaged students to the performing arts.

At Paseo High School, the Alvin Ailey summer camp focuses on boosting self esteem and developing creativity.

For the first time this year, Kansas City Public Schools are funding a summer dance program for high schoolers to take advantage of expertise in our community.

"Many of them are just starting to learn about dance and discovering what they can achieve," said Tyrone Aiken, Ailey Camp & Summer Dance director. "That's a real intensive immersive summer program where they are learning ballet, modern jazz, hip hop, body conditioning, yoga and choreography for a show they will do on June 29."

Students in the metro can receive high school credit for this performing arts class.

For many, this is their first exposure to disciplined dance training, and the Ailey Camp also includes creative writing and personal development for middle schoolers.

Both programs are fully funded and free for all who want to explore their potential.

"I know if you want to be a dancer professionally, if would want to dance outside of school, you need to be a well rounded dancer," said Kerryaunna Ross, 17. "Everything is not strictly one technique. You need to work on everything."

Instructors say the rigors of dance training help build self discipline and critical thinking skills among young minds.

It's physically and mentally demanding, but kids told Fox 4 they prefer to try to meet the challenge rather than not have any direction during the summer.

There have been some professional performers who got their start in the Ailey camp, but instructors say the purpose is targeted more toward showing kids that they can continue to learn new skills throughout their lifetimes.

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