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Potsdam ballet camp celebrates 10th year

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POTSDAM — It was a partnership born out of need, but it has endured a decade.

In 2003, when Community Performance Series sought to establish a summer dance camp at SUNY Potsdam, there was a lack of local options.

“Ten years ago there weren’t many private dance studios,” said Amy L. Flack, Community Performance Series executive director. “In Potsdam, there weren’t any dance studios at all. Young people needed an outlet for learning dance.”

So Ms. Flack looked downstate for a touring dance company that could fill the role, and found Rebecca Kelly Ballet, a small company with bases in lower Manhattan and Lake Placid.

“There are actually very few dance companies that are touring,” she said. “To find a company that serves our youngest members of the community — the youngest dancers are two years old — that was a challenge.”

This week, Community Performance Series and Rebecca Kelly Ballet are holding their 10th OnStage camp, which culminates with a performance at 7 p.m. Friday in the Dunn Dance Theatre.

Each summer, the company has held weeklong camps for dancers of all ages and skill levels on the campus. Ms. Flack said the camps are beginning to attract dancers from throughout the region.

“We have a number of students who are participating from the Potsdam-Massena area,” she said. “A large number of students are coming from Watertown, but we also have students whose primary residences are from Rochester and Montreal. They come up and make a family vacation out of it and come to dance camp.”

The camps meet the series’ goal of introducing local youth to the arts. Contributions from local businesses help keep the price of the camps reasonable, Ms. Flack said.

“That whole segment of our programming is designed to introduce young people to a wide variety of performance art,” she said.“We are able to subsidize it to provide low prices for children and community members to participate. There is no way that we could bring in the high caliber of artists that we do without community partnership.”

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