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Performing arts camps for kids

Kids with a creative side get to express themselves freely through theater, dance and music programs at these top-notch performing arts camps

Downtown Dance Factory Camp

Downtown Dance Factory Camp Photograph courtesy Downtown Dance Factory

Future DJs, Broadway stars and ballerinas can really hone their talent when they spend their summer at one of the area's best performing arts camps. Led by industry professionals, youngsters get high-caliber training from acting classes, jam out with fellow music-lovers and perfect their technique in dance classes. Next thing you know, they'll be starring in their own plays and performances on NYC stages.


RECOMMENDED: Summer camps for kids


Performing arts camps

A Westside Experiment—Young Actor's Laboratory at IRT Theater

In this alternative summer theater program, tweens work with a real company in residence to produce a wacky, totally original, experimental play. This year’s batch of campers are mentored by members of the Vampire Cowboys, an award-winning troupe that produces quirky, comic book–inspired shows. The progressive Young Actor’s Laboratory program still covers all the theater essentials, like physical-acting technique, improvisation, voice and the ever-popular stage combat, but with a decidedly downtown twist. This is a great choice for kids who are interested in theater but eager to try something more offbeat than, say, Oklahoma. Ages 12–18.

  1. 154 Christopher St, (between Greenwich and Washington Sts), 10014
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BAM Youth Summer Programs

  • Price band: 2/4

These multidisciplinary creative workshops put kids center stage at renowned performing arts center Brooklyn Academy of Music. BAM partners with several city institutions, including Museum of the Moving Image and the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, for their match of courses. In the Creative Writing workshop, kids see their original plays performed by professional actors, while in Musical Drama and Dance, they participate in a production of Agamemnon & Clytemnestra: Special Victims Unit. Budding thespians (ages 11 to 13) might consider the Bard in Brooklyn, a workshop in which they learn about various elements of theater (including stage combat, clowning and improvisation) by studying Shakespeare. At the end of the two-week workshop, they put on an abridged (read: kid-friendly) version of a Shakespeare play for an audience of their families and friends. Ages 8–18.

  1. BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl, (between Hanson Pl and Lafayette Ave), 11217
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Bandwriting Collective

  • Price band: 2/4

Guided and inspired by professional songwriters and recording artists (like Stuart Klinger who worked with Dean and the Weenies, Fred Norris and Friends), Jesse Krakow (Shudder to Think, John Zorn) and Rob Taube (James Taylor, Hank Williams Jr.), young musicians sharpen their technical skills in this series of two-week intensives. Whether they sing or play guitar, bass, drums or piano, kids collaborate with fellow campers to write original material, then lay down their tracks at a professional recording studio. Everyone gets a mixed and edited CD of their tunes to take home, and each workshop ends with an onstage concert at the Slipper Room. Ultrasound Studios, 251 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves· Shelter Island Sound, 40 W 27th St between Sixth Ave and Broadway. Ages 11–17.

  1. Ultrasound Studios, 251 W 30th St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves), 10001
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Broadway Bound Kids Camp

  • Price band: 3/4

This summertime song-and-dance program at Bridge for Dance offers kids of all ages the chance to really ham it up. They produce an original minimusical from start to finish, writing the script and songs and choreographing dance routines in Create a Musical. Fans of Glee will love forming their very own New Directions–esque troupe, singing solos and choreographing accompanying dance moves during Gleek Week. Participants in Broadway Bound Players are cast in a full junior musical production of Shrek, featuring eye-popping costumes, sets and props, and they receive acting, singing and dancing lessons from real-deal theater pros, take master classes with stars of the Great White Way and, for the grand finale, put on their production on a professional stage. Ages 5–16.

  1. 2726 Broadway, (between 104th and 105th Sts.), 10025
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Brooklyn Music Factory Camp

  • Price band: 2/4

Little ones rock out in two ways at this mash-up camp, combining programs at Brooklyn Music Factory and Brooklyn Boulders. They’ll strum guitars and bang on drums with their fellow campers (a.k.a. bandmates) at the fully loaded music studio, then blow off steam at the epic indoor climbing gym across the street. Kids show off their chops in a rockin’ concert at the end of each week. Ages 5–15.

  1. 295 Douglass St, (between Third and Fourth Aves), 11217
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Buck's Rock Creative and Performing Arts Camp

  • Price band: 3/4

With more than 30 programs to choose from, tweens can always find a satisfying new way to express themselves at this 70-year-old performing arts camp. Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in central Connecticut, this bucolic spot offers older kids the chance to get creative through music, dance, improv, theater or stand-up comedy. In the theater program, campers audition for several plays and take classes from professional actors. Young dancers study a variety of disciplines, from ballet to hip-hop, and help choreograph pieces for the final performance. Music students have access to Studio 59, the camp’s professional-grade recording facility, where they can record, mix and edit their own songs. It’s practically impossible to get stir-crazy here, with off-campus field trips to see concerts at Caramoor and Tanglewood and dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow, plus visits to local museums, art galleries and theaters. There are spelunking (cave exploring) trips at nearby state parks and overnight camping excursions for a change of pace, and kids can try other arts, like metalsmithing, glassblowing and cooking. The final day of the season culminates in a festival, with performances and demos by campers, a picnic lunch and dinner. Parents and kids from earlier sessions are welcome to attend. Ages 9–16.

  1. 59 Bucks Rock Rd, 06776
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Downtown Dance Factory Camp

  • Price band: 2/4

Dancers of all levels polish their pliés and perfect their jazz hands before showing off their skills in a weekly showcase. Full-day campers dabble in jazz, hip-hop, break dancing and musical-theater classes. Younger kids (ages 3 to 5) can try a mixed bag of dance-related craft projects (banners for recitals or costume accessories), storytelling, dress-up, singing and drama, in addition to classes in modern, tap and hip-hop. Parents are welcome to come early on Fridays and watch their kids get down, performing what they’ve practiced all week. Ages 3–12.

  1. 291 Broadway, fifth floor, (at Reade St), 10007
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Joffrey Ballet School Children's Summer Dance Camp

With tutus, fairy godmothers and glass slippers in the mix, no self-respecting little ballerina or danseur could say no to this youth dance camp. Tiny dancers (ages 3 to 6) can sign up for weeklong programs with a final performance like Sleeping Beauty, in which wee ones follow feathered Odette across an enchanted lake, or Cinderella, in which the princess’s fairies come to life through creative dances to Prokofiev’s score. Older kids ages 7 to 9 can dance through two-week sessions, trying on ballet, folk, hip-hop and jazz-contemporary techniques that culminate in a final performance for families, complete with group and solo numbers. Ages 3–9.

  1. 434 Sixth Ave, (between 9th and 10th Sts)
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Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center Summer Musical Theater Workshop

  • Price band: 2/4

At the end of this five-week workshop, future Broadway stars perform an original musical written especially for them by professional directors. They’re divided by age into groups to learn about the many aspects of producing a show; mornings focus on acting, singing and movement, while afternoons are spent working on the final play under the tutelage of directors and interns. Campers take field trips to see theater before their show at Merkin Concert Hall (which is videotaped for posterity—participants get a copy. Ages 6–15.

  1. Lucy Moses School, 129 W 67th St, (between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave), 10023
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New Victory Theater's Theater Kids Week

  • Price band: 2/4

Loyal fans of the New Victory Theater’s imaginative productions are stoked to take the stage at the renowned youth theater at New 42nd Street Studios. With three unique Kids Week summer programs to choose from, Budding Broadway stars can play with shadows, objects and Bunraku puppets during Puppetry Kids Week, learn about acting, dancing and improvisation during Theater Kids Week and try out big-top arts like juggling and clowning during Circus Kids Week. All workshops are led by theater pros from the New Victory Teaching Artist Ensemble, and each week ends with a performance for parents. Ages 7–11.

  1. 229 W 42nd St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves), 10036
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Park Slope Rock School Summer Songwriting and Recording Camp

Future rockers get all the skills they need to make it in the music biz at this camp at Complete Music Studios. Kids of all skill levels are grouped into bands and jam together to foster teamwork. They get inspired by established artists and analyze song structure, then craft their own hits. After an intense week of songwriting, young stars head to the Bunker Studio in Williamsburg to try the facility’s analog gear and record their original tunes. They’ll leave with a link to share and download their songs. Ages 8–17.

  1. 227 St. Marks Ave, (between Vanderbilt and Underhill Aves)
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Summerdance at Ballet Academy East

  • Price band: 3/4

Ballet is only the beginning at this immersive dance program for young girls. In addition to top-quality ballet training with live musical accompaniment, budding prima ballerinas try out different dance disciplines, like jazz, tap, modern and musical theater. Alternative activities, like yoga, drama, gymnastics, cooking and swimming, are scheduled throughout the week at a nearby New York Sports Club to mix things up. A perennial favorite of Summerdance is the tradition of in-studio performances—one at the program’s midway point and another at the end—when proud parents can document their kids’ perfect pirouettes. Ages 4–9.

  1. 1651 Third Ave, (between 92nd and 93rd Sts), 10128
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Vital Children's Theatre Camps

  • Price band: 2/4

Known for its kid-friendly original musicals like Pinkalicious and The Butterfly Girl, the summer camp at Vital Children’s Theatre at St. Michael’s Church is for kids who crave the spotlight. Campers learn real production numbers from their favorite shows. Focusing on a new song from a different Vital musical each week, kids study voice, creative movement and choreography with professional teaching artists, participate in workshops on lighting, set and costume design and learn improvisation to help them develop their performance skills. Every Friday, campers put on a performance of the musical number they worked on all week. Ages 4–6.

  1. St. Michael's Church, 225 W 99th St, second floor, (between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway), 10025
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