Pick a cool performing arts camp, like dance camp, music camp or theater camp, to keep your kiddos engaged this summer. Whether your tykes and tweens excel at creating and performing their very own musical, ballet or writing and recording their own music, these camps should definitely be on your radar.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC
Best performing arts camps
Through a special contract with the John F. Kennedy Center of the Arts, downtown’s IRT Theater is back this summer for highly original productions created by deaf, hard- of-hearing and hearing-abled tweens and teens. Deaf campers collaborate with hearing students of all experience levels who are interested in learning sign language and wish to partake in an innovative ensemble experience. Besides acting, improvisation and script writing, participants use mime, spoken word, dance, music and inventive storytelling to stage a production that offers a glimpse into the possibilities of theater when certain presumptions of point of view and language are left at the stage door. Ages 12–18.
With a strong emphasis on letting older kids and teenagers’ inner voices ring out proudly, the intensive two-week summer program brings young musicians together to write, play and record their own songs befitting their unique experiences, taste in music and talent. The campers form two bands—they practice with one in the morning and the other in the afternoon—and each band collaborates with the help of musicians and recording technicians to write two polished songs that are recorded in the camp’s professional studio. Campers go home with a CD of the songs they created! Ages 10–16.
Kids who love being on stage will thrive at this exciting theater, where they'll partake in programs like Musical Theater and Movie Musicals. During those two-week programs, they'll learn and perform an original music review featuring amazing songs from kid-friendly broadway musicals and movies. Look out for their Hamilton-inspired summer program Hamil-tunes, in which kiddos write original scripts and create music and choreography. There's also a Minecraft-themed program called Musicalcraft, where kids use their imaginations to build stories, create new worlds and write original scripts and songs to act out in an end-of-program show for family and friends. Camps are held at various locations—see website for details. Ages 6–12.
Brooklyn Acting Lab’s young actors’ program teaches kids (going into the first, second or third grade) the skills needed to put on their own show. In addition to acting exercises that include improvisation, singing and dancing, campers also try their hands at playwriting and crafting props and sets perfect for mermaids or rock stars. Ages 5–8.
Throughout the year, talented kids take the TADA! stage to star in musical adaptations of favorite children’s storybooks. Kids ages 4 and 5 might partake in programs themed around princesses and pirates, or take part in an experience that's all about dinosaurs! Things get a little more serious with the older kids, as they might try a Willy Wonka or Rock 'n Roll themed session. See website for details—Some camps not held at TADA! location. Ages 4–14.
Little ones can let their imaginations run away with them during this summer arts camp, encouraging city kids to weave their own original fairytale. After getting inspired by the week's featured tale through storytelling, music and movement, they'll have time to craft props, costumes and sets. Mom and Dad will love taking in the whimsical production at week's end. Ages 3–5.
Little stars, step right up! In this acting camp, young creatives attend classes like Acting for Film, How to Deliver Commercial Copy, Cold Readings, Scene Study, Audition Strategy, Monologue Preparation and Industry Coaching for Representation. Each week finishes with a showcase with an actual kids agent and manager. How cool is that? Age groups: 7 to 9, 10 to 14.
Whether your child’s creativity and talents are focused in one area of the arts or their passion for performing, creating and imagining cannot be contained, Usdan allows each camper to curate a program that is right for them. From a variety of classes in music, dance, theater, creative writing and visual arts, children choose a two- period major, a one-period elective and a recreational activity to fill their days at the beautiful Wheatley Heights, New York, campus (daily buses run from four of the five boroughs). Performing-arts–related classes appeal to both traditionalists and contemporary performers, with options that include ballet or hip-hop for dancers; musical theater and game-heavy actor’s craft for thespians; and classes that focus on specific instruments as well as jazz ensemble, orchestra and choral singing for the musically inclined. For kids who want to work with their hands, classes in metalworking, archery, organic gardening and LEGO design keep their bodies and minds occupied. Each session culminates in a showcase of the campers’ growth. Ages 4–18.
Over the course of just nine days, campers at this LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School) program put on a full-fledged production of an abridged musical. Campers are cast on the first day, and from there it’s up to them to learn the lines, lyrics, choreography, notes and harmonies and to develop their characters for the performance at the end of the two-week session. In addition to the theater workshops and intensive rehearsing, kids work on building props and sets for the show. Each session is a different production: Years past featured large-ensemble plays like Oliver, Annie and Once Upon a Mattress, all performed on the state-of-the-art stage. Ages 9–13.
The first step on the road to making it on the Great White Way is learning how to sing the notes and tap your toes, which is exactly what real working Broadway professionals teach the young performers at A Class Act NY’s all-levels-welcome boot camp. During the course, kids, tweens and teens master a variety of numbers that span musical theater’s history, from the lively show tunes of the Rodgers & Hammerstein–led golden age to the innovative works of today. To round out the experience, other workshops teach theater techniques like stage combat and improvisation. Camp ends with a children’s theater showcase, during which the future stars present their very best numbers. Ages 7–18.