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Photograph: Courtesy Red Carpet Kids

The best acting camp and performing arts camp programs in NYC

These acting camp offerings and performing arts camp selections will help kids prepare for their time in the spotlight

By Allie Early and Danielle Valente
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NYC's coolest acting camp offerings and performing arts workshops are a must if your little stars love Broadway shows for kids and Off-Broadway shows for kids. Why not make this summer a dramatic one? 

Campers will have the chance to explore a wide variety of areas—musical theater, improv and dance, to name a few—while they make new friends, gain confidence and improve their skills. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC

When you and the littles are not busy visiting the best kids' amusement parks or spending afternoons relaxing at the best beaches for kids near NYC, you'll want to keep them active, and these acting camp programs are a great way to do it. First stop: camp. Next stop: The Great White Way!

Best performing arts camps

1. Camp Kids 'N Comedy

Theater Chelsea

First stop: summer 2020. Next stop: SNL. Humorists can hone their comedic chops during two weeks of improv, stand-up and sketch comedy. We suggest bringing tissues for the final showcase at Gotham Comedy Club—you’ll be crying tears of joy! Ages 10–18. 

Photograph: Courtesy NYC Guitar School/@plasticarmygirl

2. NYC Guitar School Summer Rock Camp

Things to do Camps Midtown West

Your Jimi Hendrix in the making has to start somewhere, and Rock Band 101 is the perfect place. Guitarists, drummers, bassists, keyboardists and vocalists can hone their skills and practice making music with others. After two weeks of working with state-of- the-art equipment, piecing together songs and rehearsing tracks, your rock star will put on a live performance. Ages 8–11, 12–14, 15–17.

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Courtesy Piper Theatre/Jeremy Amar

4. Piper Theatre Productions Camp

Things to do Camps Gowanus

If your little New Yorkers have taken a liking to Shakespeare in the Park, Brookyn’s Piper Theatre needs them to put on a show. The nonprofit is kick-starting its 20th year with one-, two- and four-week workshops in which thespians, divided by age group, will re-create Frozen Jr., The Little Shop of Horrors and other hits. Ages 5–16.

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Lee Wexler

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

Things to do Camps West Village

This inclusive program for hearing, deaf and hard-of hearing teens provides a chance for thespians to immerse themselves in onstage adventures. Participants will cover a wide range of areas, including script writing, acting and improv, in order to get a sense of how productions are brought to life. This year's offerings, taught in both Sign Language and English, will include a combination of spoken word, mime, storytelling, dance and music. Young actors need not have prior experience to apply. Ages 13–17. 

Photograph: Courtesy Jaznina Santiago

6. Summer Music and Dance Institute

Things to do Camps Fort Greene

Gain an appreciation for the arts with this inclusive program, which requires campers to complete a series of four music and dance classes each week. Some of the offerings include music production, contemporary dance and musical theater. BMS also offers field trips to the American Museum of Natural History, Prospect Park Zoo and other NYC attractions. Ages 5–8. 

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Photo © Ashly Covington, CovingtonPortraits.com
Photograph: Courtesy Ashly Covington

7. Bandwriting Collective

Things to do Camps Midtown West

Professional songwriters, musicians and producers mentor burgeoning creatives at Smash Studio and Shelter Island Sound, where Rihanna and other celeb artists record. The focus is on empowerment through creation: Campers write and record original songs, and parents can attend open studios in the first week to listen to the tunes’ progress. Each session culminates with a performance at the Slipper Room, and kids take home a CD of their work. Ages 8–18.

Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Acting Lab

8. Brooklyn Acting Lab Young PLAYers Camp

Things to do Camps Park Slope

Brooklyn Acting Lab provides a choose-you-own-adventure theme during its Young PLAYers series. Each week focuses on a different topic—Superheroes Unite, Charlotte's Web, Cats, Mary Poppins comes to Brooklyn, to name a few. With each new challenge, campers are exposed to various elements of immersive theater. Grades 1–4. 

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9. TADA! Theater Camp

Kids Flatiron

Throughout the program, talented kids take the TADA! stage to star in musical adaptations of favorite stories. Each week follows a theme; past offerings have included EMOJI: The Musical, World Turned Upside Down and I Speak Fluent Show Tunes. Lights, camera, action! Various locations. Ages 4–12.

10. Broadway Bound Kids Camp

Kids Upper West Side

Broadway Bound Kids keeps young theater-goers entertained with a variety of summer programs fit for a star. Kids on Broadway gives those in first through sixth grade a chance to light up the stage with a combination of acting, dancing and singing. In The Greatest Show, campers (kindergarten–sixth grade who are split up according to age) will attend a workshop with a Broadway cast member and have a chance to create their own original musical using The Greatest Showman as their muse. Disney fans in fourth through eleventh grade will want to have a chance recreating one of their favorite stories in Aladdin. To learn about each offering, click here. Camps are held at various locations. Ages 5–12.

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11. STREB Summer Circus Camp

Things to do Camps Williamsburg

Step right up and get ready to star in your own amazing three-ring circus. Young acrobats will swing on the trapeze, flip the day away on the trampoline and balance on a tightrope. They'll learn the techniques of real-life action hero (and Macarthur Grant winner) Elizabeth Streb, whose motion lexicon Pop Action combines stage and street performance art. Ages 6–13.

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12. NYC Kids Fairy Tale Camp

Things to do Camps West Village

Little ones will let their imaginations run wild during this summer arts camp that encourages city kids to create their own original fairytale. After being inspired by the week's featured story—showcased through music, movement and storytelling— campers will 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.

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13. Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts

Things to do Camps Long Island

Whether your kids' creativity is focused 
in one area of the arts or if their passion for performing, creating and imagining cannot be contained, Usdan
 allows campers 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 major and minor to fill their days at the beautiful Wheatley Heights campus. Classes appeal to both traditionalists and contemporary performers, with options that include ballet or hip-hop for dancers or musical theater and game-heavy actor’s craft for thespians. For kids who want to work with their hands, classes in metalworking, archery, organic gardening and LEGO design keep their bodies and minds occupied. Ages 7–18. 

Photograph: Courtesy Red Carpet Kids

14. Acting for Film, TV and Theater with Red Carpet Kids

Things to do Camps Lenox Hill

Little stars, step right up! In this acting camp, young creatives attend classes taught by the pros. Attendees can opt for a program that either focuses on acting and theater or sketch comedy and imrpov. It's the perfect fit for those who want to spruce up their theatrical chops, or for those who are looking to gain confidence and experience in a new setting. Ages 6–14.

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Photograph: Courtesy Musical Theater Workshop at LREI

15. Musical Theater Workshop at LREI

Things to do Camps West Village

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 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 plays such as Oliver, Annie and Once Upon a Mattress. Ages 9–13. 

Photograph: Courtesy Goddard Riverside Performing Arts Camp

16. Goddard Riverside Performing Arts Camp

Things to do Camps Upper West Side

If your child is interested in the performing arts, the Goddard Riverside Performing Arts Camp is committed to immersing him or her into a variety of disciplines from music and vocals to dance and theater. The programs are taught by NYC-based professional musicians, dancers, actors and theater directors. Trips to local theater and outdoor activities are also included, and at the end of the camp session, the students will present their very own production. Ages 8-14.

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17. Marymount Drama Camp

Things to do Camps Upper East Side

If your children come alive on stage, then hone those theater chops at this awesome drama camp. Campers will work on their self-expression through acting and improv exercises, music, singing, dance, costume and set design. At the end of the program, the group will put it all into play on stage. To fuel youngsters' creativity, the program also takes its campers to a Broadway show! Ages 3.5-14.

18. Buck's Rock Performing & Creative Arts Camp

Things to do Camps

This camp for creative kiddos has so much to offer! Nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires, this summer program boasts over 30 options for aspiring artists of all kinds. Campers can dabble in digital photography, batik, glassblowing, metalsmithing, ceramics, woodshop, painting, drawing and papermaking. There are opportunities to try unique activities, such as helping out on the animal farm, trying circus arts and even lighting and sound design. Ages 9–18.

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19. Brooklyn Music Factory Camp

Things to do Camps Gowanus

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 and start each day with a full-camp drum circle! Ages 5–15.

20. Summer Dance Camp at Mark Morris Dance Center

Things to do Camps Boerum Hill

Young dancers who are ready to learn the basics of ballet and other genres are sure to start things off on the right foot with these workshops. These exciting dance day camps incorporate elements like jazz, ballet, tap and modern, plus there's live musical accompaniment. Ages 4–13.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ray Sohn

21. Park Slope Rock School Summer Songwriting and Recording Camp

Things to do Camps Prospect Heights

This Park Slope school encourages kids to jam out during a six-day workshop that dives into the nitty gritty of songwriting and recording. Campers will be grouped into their own bands, and each day offers them the chance to focus in on song structure and writing their own pieces. At the end of the progrm, kids get to head to Bunker Studios to learn about its inner-workings and record their own original songs. Ages 8–18.

Ballet Academy East
Rosalie O'Connor

22. Summerdance at Ballet Academy East

Things to do Camps Upper East Side

Ballet is only the beginning at this immersive dance program for young girls. In addition to top-quality training with live musical accompaniment, budding prima ballerinas try out different dance disciplines such as jazz, tap, modern and musical theater. Alternative activities such as 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. Keep an eye out for other programs, including pre-professional classes and the young dancer program. Ages 3–8. 

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23. Joffrey Ballet School Children's Summer Dance Camp

Things to do Camps Greenwich Village

With tutus, fairy godmothers and glass slippers in the mix, no little ballerina can say no to this youth dance camp. Tiny dancers (ages 3–6) can sign up for week-long programs with a final performance like Sleeping Beauty. Older kids (ages 7–9) 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.

24. Child's Play NY

Things to do Camps Brooklyn Heights

Tiny thespians are treated to a wide variety with this camp. The Adventure Series (ages 3–5) allows little ones to sing and act their way through their favorite stories; Mini Musicals (ages 4–6) get to belt one out and nail down the necessary choreography; the Players Series allows kids to create an entire production...all by the end of the week! Ages 3–11. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Dancewave

25. Dancewave Summer Camp

Things to do Camps Gowanus

Dancewave offers exciting half and full-day youth camps for kids who want to bust a move. But it's not all about ballet, jazz and modern genres—the camp also makes time for activities and games and trips to exciting attractions before closing the program with a performance. Ages 6–11.

26. The Greatest Showman Camp

Things to do Camps Gowanus

Hurry, hurry, step right up to the most exciting summer imaginable! The Muse has successfully turned circus artistry into a mainstream activity in NYC, and the Greatest Showman Camp is proof. Nothing’s off limits, and the moppets’ tricks might be mistaken for Big Apple Circus acts once they’re juggling, perfecting their aerial skills and mastering the trapeze. Come one, come all, for a week of can’t-miss thrills. Ages 5–11. 

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27. Atlantic Acting School Camp

Things to do Camps Chelsea

Action! This audition-based camp explores the fundamentals of performing, honing in on a technique and taking the theater world by storm. Campers are divided by age to explore different areas such as improv, musicals and more. View a full list of 2019 offerings here. It's time for your kid's debut! Ages 4–18. 

28. KeyLab Summer Camp

Things to do Camps Carroll Gardens

Who knows? After the Audio Immersion Lab summer course at KeyLab, your kiddos’ music could end up on the silver screen. Using a state-of-the-art iPad lab and two computer- audio workstations, pint-size audio techs create, edit and mix music that’s suitable for movies, podcasts and other media. While they’re preparing for a future in sound design or sound mixing, you should prepare for their musical masterpieces to get stuck in your head! Ages 8–12. 

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Photograph: Courtesy CinemaKidz

29. Cinema Kidz Camp

Things to do Camps Financial District

Budding cinematographers, actors and all those who love film are invited to spend the summer honing their craft at CinemaKidz, where they'll focus on unique topics such as costume design, filmmaking, acting and other areas. Campers are grouped in age-appropriate workshops. Learn more about the offerings here. Ages 5–15. 

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