Poetry, Music, Art & Dance Celebration
The Williamsville Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration is the culmination of a year-long program which features original works created and performed by students from elementary age through high school. Each year a Guest Poet inspires and leads the program. Students come together in collaborations that culminate in the Celebration of the Guest Poet's work, student poetry, student musical compositions based on poetry, student art work based on poetry and student dances based on poetry and/or music. At the Celebration, which usually takes place in April, during National Poetry Month, the Guest Poet reads from his or her work in combination with the work of student composers, poets, dancers and artists.
Since its inception in 2000, Co-Founders/Co-Directors John Kryder and Stephen Shewan have connected students with internationally celebrated poets. Annually, approximately 2,000 students from 1st through 12th grades participate in the program by creating poetry, music, art and dance.
Richard Jones had this to say about had this to say about the 17th annual Celebration: "Anyone in doubt about the future of poetry, music, art, or dance, should consider a trip to Williamsville for the yearly student and teacher celebration of art. The honesty, heart, whimsy, and wisdom displayed by these skillful young composers, artists, dancers, and writers bears witness to an essential covenant: that we are all born to create, collaborate, and make art in all its manifestations and glory. These young people and their gifted teachers remind us that the human family is meant to share the joy and fellowship of art, artist, and audience."
Similarly, Dan Gerber, guest poet for the 16th Annual Celebration, spoke of the celebration as follows: “I’ve told many people of my experience in Buffalo and of how it has fueled my optimism for the future of the arts and of arts education. How much more deeply caring, thinking, feeling, and awake our world would be if programs similar to yours were more the norm than the exception. How much more human and humane.” “The dedication and commitment of all these young artists and their teachers has been a great gift for me.” Similarly, Carol Ann Duffy, Guest Poet for the 15th Annual Celebration, spoke of the Celebration as follows: "My visit and time with the students and staff was without doubt the most moving and inspiring time I've had as a poet working within education. To see some of my poems used in collaboration with dance, art, music and students' own writing made me look at my own work as freshly as though it had been written by someone else. In fact, I felt better - in every way! No poet could ask for a better 'hearing' anywhere."
The Celebration has won numerous awards and honors. Click to see past awards, and also to see past Guest Poets.
Call for Music and Art 2018 (.pdf file)
Call for Dancers 2018 (.pdf file)
Video links to past performances:
Poetry Celebration Overview
This short video, entitled COLLABORATions and CONNECTions, provides an overview of the types of poetry and performances created. Videos clips are taken from Celebrations between 2004 and 2008.
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2017 video with Peter Balakian, Guest Poet
Interview with Peter Balakian
Poetry, Music Art and Dance Celebration 2016 video with Richard Jones, Guest Poet
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2015 video with Dan Gerber, Guest Poet
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2014 video with Carol Ann Duffy, Guest Poet
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2013 video with Jane Hirshfield, Guest Poet
Commentary by Jane Hirshfield
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2012 video with Naomi Shihab Nye, Guest Poet
Commentary by Naomi Shihab Nye
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2011 video with Ted Kooser, Guest Poet
Reading and Commentary by Ted Kooser
Poetry, Music, Art and Dance Celebration 2010 video with Kenn Nesbitt, Guest Poet