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STG AileyCamp students perform on stage

Photo by Christopher Nelson

AileyCamp 2020 Digital Program

AileyCamp 2020 provided a free three-week digital program for selected youth ages 11 – 14 from July 1 – July 22, 2020. This program uses the power of dance and personal development to support in developing a heightened awareness of their full potential, self-confidence, critical thinking skills and decision making skills to navigate difficult challenges. Created by Alvin Ailey and brought to the Seattle area by Seattle Theatre Group, AileyCamp combines disciplined dance training, personal development, creative writing, and visual art instruction to support youth in developing respect for themselves and others that meaningfully impact their lives.

Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

We look forward to offering this program again in the future! Please consider making a contribution towards a student's participation and supporting STG in continuing important programs like this one.

STG AileyCamp is supported by:

Past Programs

Seattle Theatre Group AileyCamp launched in the summer of 2016, establishing a deeper partnership with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. STG AileyCamp, in memory of longtime Ailey Production Director, STG friend and Tacoma native Calvin Hunt, offers a free camp for youth ages 11 - 14, using the power of dance and personal development to support middle school youth in developing a heightened awareness of their full potential, self-confidence, critical thinking skills and decision making skills to navigate difficult challenges. Created by Alvin Ailey and brought to the Seattle Area by Seattle Theatre Group, AileyCamp combines disciplined dance training, personal development, creative writing, visual art instruction, and percussion classes to support youth in developing respect for themselves and others that meaningfully impact their lives.

During this program, campers take daily dance classes from experienced teaching artists in popular styles such as West African, jazz, ballet, percussion and the Lester Horton technique (which is the basis of Alvin Ailey's works). The campers also participate in daily Personal Development and Creative Communication courses focusing on: how to empower young people to direct their own lives; how to prevent drug abuse; improve nutrition; and using visual art as an effective means of expressing thoughts and feelings.

Conceived in 1989, this vital program has reached thousands of youth across the country, providing direction and hope to youth who are most in need of knowing there can be a bright future. The Seattle Theatre Group® AileyCamp is the 10th AileyCamp site in the United States, bringing to Seattle, South King County and Tacoma, a program that stimulates, presents positive themes, and provides role models and mentors - impacting their lives now, as they move into their high school years and beyond.


Read Seattle Refined's piece on Seattle Theatre Group AileyCamp.

image of young dancers talking See the NBC News story on AileyCamp here.

Meet Our STG AileyCamp Staff


Shawn serves as the Director of Seattle Theatre Group AileyCamp, Dance for PD® and Dance with Life. She is the former (founding) School and Education Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, under the Artistic Direction of Donald Byrd, where she directed, taught, and produced youth performances for over 18 years. In 2008, she helped STG launch and build the Seattle Area Dance for PD® program. Shawn helped STG and Ailey launch STG AileyCamp in 2016. Shawn holds a BA in Psychology, and is a certified Dance for PD® instructor and a certified Transformational Life Coach. She is excited for this fifth year of AileyCamp!


Adriana Wright - Born in Southern California Adriana grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in Dance in 2013. She has worked with Maya Soto/ Nico Tower, Iyun Ashani Harrison, Mary Sheldon Scott, Anna Conner, Lauren Linder, Alyza DelPan-Monley, Alicia Mullikin, and other artists in Seattle, San Diego, and Mexico.Her choreographic work has been present- ed through On the Boards Northwest New Works 2015, Velocity Dance Center's Bridge Project 2015, Cornish College of the Arts and Southwestern Community College where she also received the Outstanding Dancer/ Choreographer Scholarship as well as around Seattle. Adriana works as a Teaching Artist for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Community Education Programs where she teaches creative movement in public schools. She researches and experiments with movement through choreography and teaching creative movement.


Lashon Watson, LMHC, MHP, CMHS, NCC is in his fourth year as the lead Guidance Counselor with STG AileyCamp. Lashon provides support to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, AileyCamp site directors and staff, presenting lectures on adolescent psychological and social growth & development, and comprehensive support to teaching artists. Lashon is owner and therapist at Watson Therapeutic & Wellness Center, PLLC. Prior to his education and becoming a licensed therapist, Lashon took on projects as a stage and independent film actor, performing arts educator, and teaching artist. Lashon enjoys traveling, listening to favorite music, watching movies, eating vegetarian/vegan foods, and investing time with friends and family.
Maria Boxill is a licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMHCA), Maria has an MA in Counseling Psychology from Northwest University. Maria walks alongside youth and adults to address trauma through a multicultural / social justice lens. Maria’s counseling experience results from many years of service to and within marginalized communities in various inner cities around the world. Maria believes that wholistic attunement is key to healthy development of individual and communal identity. She works tirelessly to increase understanding about and to deconstruct systems that hinder advancement while increasing a sense of healing, self-awareness, and resilience.

“We are not created to exist in isolation. When we are at our best, we serve as beacons of hope shining light on lessons learned and experiences weaving a beautiful tapestry of endurance, determination, pride, unity, and hope.” – Maria Boxill (LMHCA, MACP)


STG AileyCamp is privileged to have a staff of outstanding teachers and musicians. Each instructor is a person recognized in his or her field (dance, writing, human relations, music, visual arts) and has a special interest in working with young people.


Maria Guillen-Valdovinos ( is a Visual Creative Artist, Visual Arts Educator, & Indigenous Human Rights Observer based in Occupied Coast Salish Territory. Born in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero and raised in the Pacific Northwest; she graduated from the University of Washington in 2010 and was a Per- former at BBC’s 100 Women-Mexico City Festival 2016; A Published Writer featured in “Chapter 9: Travels of a Diaspora Community: From La Sierra Madre Y Tierra Caliente to the Pacific Northwest” MEXICAN-ORIGIN FOODS, FOODWAYS, AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: A DECOLONIAL PERSPECTIVES, The University of Arkansas Press 2017; a Journal Publication “Xin Fronteras”, Seattle Journal for Social Justice: Vol.10: Iss.1, Article 28. 2011, Seattle University School of Law. She loves fluffy things, flowers and oceans. (Pronouns: She/Her/They)


Heather Harris was born in Seattle, Washington and began her training at the Cornish School of the Arts. She furthered her studies at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. She has studied with Joffrey, Complexions and Spectrum Dance Theater. Heather has performed with the Joffrey Concert Group, Ballet El Paso, Aluja Brazilian Dance and Spectrum Dance Theater. She currently teaches in the Spectrum Dance Theater School under the direction of Donald Byrd. She is the proud mother of two daughters and continues to teach and do dance outreach at several Seattle schools. This is Heather's 4th year as the AileyCamp ballet instructor.


Nia-Amina Minor is a movement artist and dance educator from South Central Los Angeles. She studied at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, received her BA from Stanford University, and holds an MFA in Dance from UC Irvine. Nia-Amina's work is interdisciplinary focusing on the body in social, political, and digital contexts. Through dance, she investigates black realities through the intersection of movement, memory, and rhythm. In 2014, Nia-Amina co-founded No)one Art House, a Los Angeles based multi-disciplinary collective. She is currently in her fourth season with Spectrum Dance Theater as a Company Dancer and Community Engagement Artist Liaison.


Akoiya Harris was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and is an alumni of Garfield High School. She is in her first season as a company artist with Spectrum Dance Theater. Akoiya is a graduate of The Ailey School’s Certificate program and has attended summer intensives at The Ailey School and Dance Theater of Harlem. While at Ailey, Akoiya worked with master teachers such as Milton Myers, Ana Marie Forsythe, Renee Robinson, and Mathew Rushing. Akoiya has also had the opportunity to perform works in the AAADT repertoire such as Grace by Ronald K Brown, and excerpts from Mr. Ailey’s Night Creature and Revelations. This is her first year with AileyCamp.


Awal Alhassan is a master dancer and musician from West Africa. Born in Tamale, Ghana and raised by a traditional drumming and dancing family, Awal has worked throughout Africa both independently, and with some of Ghana's most revered performance groups, such as: the Ghana Dance Ensemble, the National Theatre of Ghana, and the Center for National Culture Dance Troupe. Awal specializes in several percussive instruments, including Djembe, the Kpanlogo drum, the "talking drum" called Luna, and bass drums called GunGon. He began studying the music and dance of his native Ghana, West Africa at the age of five. His primary music education was with with Center for National Culture of Ghana and the National Theatre of Ghana. He now resides in the Seattle and is the founder of Sohoyini Music & Dance Company, which performs locally and internationally. Awal teaches ongoing classes, workshops, and residencies regularly across Europe, Canada, and the United States. This is Awal's 4th year teaching at AileyCamp.


Mashud Neindow - Born in Tamale, Ghana, Mashud arrived in the United States through the Homowo African Arts and Culture from Accra. A drummer since the age of six, Neindow was a member of the National Dance Company of Ghana for 13 years. He started building drums at the age of ten, learning from his father and continues this tradition today when he is not performing. He has toured all over the world. Highlights include Africa Contemporary Festival in Nigeria, Expo 2000 in Germany, the 1996 US Olympic Games, and the Harare International Festival in Zimbabwe as well as performances for President Bill Clinton, Dr. Maya Angelou and The Queen of England. Neindow now resides in Portland, Oregon with his wife and children, where he continues his family tradition of Lunga (Talking Drum) drumming music. This is Mashud's 4th year teaching at AileyCamp.


Art Koshi is a pianist from Honolulu, HI, who has been accompanying ballet and modern dance classes since 1997. Art works as a dance accompanist for Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Theatre Group, The University of Washington, Dance Fremont, and All That Dance. In addition to the piano, he plays percussion, guitar, and bass. Art has had the honor of being the musician for AileyCamp since 2016. He has also accompanied improv theater groups such as Jet City Improv and On the Spot, with whom he’s performed in improv festivals throughout the US in Honolulu, Chicago, Austin, & Arizona.


Elba Moise is a bilingual Afro-Latina and proud daughter of immigrant padres de Haiti y El Salvador. Born and raised in Houston Tejas, she is an education PhD student at the University of Washington (UW), and works for UW’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She is an actor and facilitator for UW's Theater for Change Program, which uses Theater of the Oppressed, an interactive theater approach, as a pedagogical tool creating transformational learning experiences around systems of power and privilege. She has worked with youth and adults, locally and abroad, for several years. For Elba, educación is a liberating tool that can guide learners to increase consciousness of positionalities and societal issues for change. Elba cares for the souls of students and acknowledges students’ diverse lived experiences as assets to the classroom. She is excited to co-create a positive and inclusive learning community with STG students and staff!


Ayanna Omar is a Seattle based dancer/choreographer trained in hip hop, house, modern, tap and ballet. She currently coaches for Purple Reign Dance at Washington Middle School and works for Northwest Tap Connection, a dance studio that focuses much of their work through the lens of race and social justice. Ayanna has participated in STG’s DANCE This and in the nationally recognized dance number by the legendary Donald McKayle "Shaker Life" in 2017 at the Moore Theatre. Her credits include participation in Hamilton's mixed tape "Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)" choreographed by Shakiah Danielson, the GROOVEMENT, and various dance performances through Northwest Tap Connection.

Sydnii Hodge started dancing when she was 4 years old and has maintained a love of the arts ever since. She has been working with kids younger than her since she was in high school; mentoring students to do better in school and extracurricular activities. After graduating she has found her passion in teaching and helping inspire a love of dance and the arts in our youth. She spent the past school year teaching with STG’s DMIS program. Returning to STG’s Ailey Camp for her third year as a group leader she is excited and ready to have another wonderful summer!

Rachel M. McKinney is a Seattle native. Her passion for dance started at the age of five. Over the 18 years of dancing, her love for dance grew, she began to study all types of dance from ballet, modern, hip hop, and African but her main focus was rhythm tap. She was a member of the young performing company, Totally Tap Kids, Youth Tap Ensemble, and Color Lines Dance Ensemble. Rachel is currently a tap instructor at Northwest Tap Connection. She has performed at Floripa Tap Festival in Brazil, Cross Cultural Exchange trip in Barbados, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Dance This, and Global Dance Party. In 2019 She joined STG’s team as a teaching artist for Disney Musicals in Schools! Rachel loves working with young kids and is excited to be a part of STG’s Ailey Camp this year!

Moeifaga “Lorna” Sailiai is an original member of the dance group NIU Roots. NIU Roots consisted of middle and high school Polynesian students from both Seattle and Highline school districts who performed cultural dances from the islands of Samoa and Tonga.Lorna participated in several events sponsored by STG such as performing in More Music at the Moore and Dance This for 2 consecutive years and had the honor of being on stage with the legendary Sheila E.As a new group leader, Lorna is excited and eager to be working with and learning from the other AileyCamp staff, and inspiring and empowering the youth who will be attending AileyCamp this year!

Contact Us

For more information, please contact:
Shawn Roberts, Director of Seattle Theatre Group® AileyCamp
206.518.5232 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

image of students dancing at AileyCamp

Click above to watch the STGtv episode about AileyCamp.

Donate Today!

Your support is needed to make AileyCamp available to middle school-aged youth in need of increased access to confidence building arts experiences.