Ah Surely – Irish Dance Band

        Ah Surely is  the title of a great old Irish dance tune. It’s also a common phrase that you may hear in Ireland, as in “Ah surely, it’ll be grand!” Every performance of the band is grand as Claire Shires, Evan Kinney and John Maschinot will make you want to kick up your heals with a program of pure, authentic Irish music and dance, combining masterfully played uilleann (Irish) pipes (a soft-spoken cousin of the Scottish bagpipes), fiddle, concertina, flute, tin whistle, bodhran, banjo and guitar with traditional Irish step dance, the trio is sure to tickle the fancy of young and old alike! Ah Surely has taken their fun, upbeat and educational program to venues and schools throughout the region. Perfectly tailored for any and all age groups, students/audience members will love to join in on authentic Irish sing-a-longs and even learn a simple dance step as they take part in a real Irish céilí (pronounced kay-lee), a traditional music and dance party.


Atlanta Chinese Dance Company – Dance

        Founded in 1991 by Hwee-Eng Y. Lee, the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company (ACDC) educates and entertains metro Atlanta and surrounding areas about Chinese history and culture through the art of Chinese dance.  The company has enchanted Chinese and non-Chinese audiences alike through original full-evening Chinese dance productions as well as countless community outreach performances for schools/universities, libraries, senior centers, arts festivals, international days, corporate events, military observances, Asian community events, and more.  Most notably, ACDC helped showcase Atlanta to the world as performers in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games.  For more than ten years, they performed the “Chinese variation” in John McFall’s version of the Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.
        Specifically designed for schools, community centers, and libraries in mind, ACDC’s lecture-demonstration combines traditional Chinese dance performances with detailed live narration and audience participation to introduce traditional Chinese dance, history, and culture in an interactive setting.  ACDC’s lecture-demonstration duo features a narrator/instructor (artistic director Hwee-Eng Y. Lee) and a solo professional dancer (Kerry Lee).


Jennifer Daniels – Singer/Songwriter

        Jennifer is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, and Wolf Trap trained teaching artist with the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. She has released nine music albums, a picture book, a mystery/romance novel, and two human children into the world, but her claim to fame with the elementary school lot is that she gets to work for Eric Litwin, author of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Jennifer champions the idea that successful literacy begins with playful, interactive stories and songs. Jenn and the fam live in Lookout Mountain, GA.
        Jennifer’s programs for Pre-K to 2nd and 3rd to 5th grade interactive concerts are full of creative movement, songs, and stories led with guitar, ukulele, and picture books. These elements (interactive songs, stories, movement) naturally build tools to enable successful literacy and mathematical thinking.


Carmen Deedy – Bilingual Storyteller

            Carmen Deedy, who was born in Cuba and then moved to the United States as a child, has many real-life experiences to share with students.  As a bilingual story teller, she is able to converse with students in Spanish as well as English.  The moral values she incorporates into her stories are important for all students to hear and learn from.
Although she is best known for her beloved children’s books, Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker of the TED conference, the Library of Congress, and Columbia University.  Her NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia.  According to Carmen, her favorite audience is school children.  We anticipate that Carmen’s focus on literacy and Latino culture will inspire our students.


Dave Holland – Music 

        One of the featured artists this year is Dave Holland. Dave is a highly charged world percussionist and teaching artist. performer and highly charged educator. As founder of Beatin’ Path Rhythm Events, Dave spreads the message of community, teamwork, diversity, and environmental awareness through drum circles and interactive performances. He regularly performs and facilitates drum circles at regional area schools, urban communities, health fairs, and festivals. Dave’s world travels include Cuba, Africa, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan, Russia and Turkey. His program this year is titled, “Hey! What’s that Sound?” During the program, Dave leads an interactive discovery of sound and science through world percussion performance and demonstration. With various instrument timbres and environmental resources, he demonstrates three characteristics of a sound wave: wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. Students learn how sound is produced and how it is transmitted and received. They also witness how various sounds come together to create what the brain receives as music.


Andy Irwin 

        Andy is an American storyteller, singer-songwriter, and humorist. Born and raised in Covington, Georgia,  Irwin began his career in 1984 with act at Walt Disney World. After five years he shifted to performing as a singer-songwriter, touring the Southeast. In the mid-1990s, Irwin branched into performances for children.
        This year, Andy’s program for Kindergarten and first graders is Letters, Numbers, and Other Important Stuff. The program offers active counting, alphabet, and spelling songs, along with tunes that teach life lessons.  Using mighty funny song-stories, Andy uses an unusual cache of sound effects that helps children think of new ways of seeing letters, numbers, and other important stuff.
        His program for 2nd through 5th graders is Nouns, Verbs and Other Important Stuff. This program stimulates students’ creative writing skills through the spontaneous creation of humorous, fanciful, and nonsensical songs with nouns, verbs, and adjectives suggested by the audience.  Students will meet “Proper Noun” and “common noun” and laugh as their friends try to act out verbs. Andy’s songs are based on the rhythms from the words we speak and his songs usually begin with a short phrase, often inspired by sound and joke craft.


Manga African Dance

     Their program, titled “RHYTHM IN MOTION”, is a dance story that compares the similarities of dances of the Diaspora – from West Africa, Central Africa, the Caribbean to the new world and beyond.  The “Drum Call” song will be followed by a demonstration of “Sunu,” which is a social dance.  The market place dance from Congo, Central Africa, as well as Reggae (Caribbean) dances will be performed.  Demonstrations of Modern, Hip-Hop, and Charleston dances and their comparison to Sunu will be observed and discussed.  There will be an audience participation component with song and dance steps of African, Modern and Hip-Hop dances.  The program concludes with a Sunu dance performance.
     The objectives of the program include:  preserving and maintaining African culture through dance, drums, songs, and adornment, teaching the community about the connections between various American dances and African cultural dances, building self-esteem and universal connection between individuals of all races and ethnic groups through dance, and bringing awareness of the link between the Arts and classroom subjects.


Laughing Matters – Theatre and Improvisation

  One of the featured artists this year is Laughing Matters. Laughing Matters began in 1985 as a group of students learning improvisational comedy. They grew, expanded, morphed and evolved into a professional troupe operating under the now semi-famous name Laughing Matters. That was thirty-five years ago. Over the years they developed into an educational resource for industries, corporations and, first and foremost, schools and youth groups.
        Their current interactive improvisational show is structured around the theme of Conflict Resolution.  Based on grade level, recent events, and/or ideas given by students and sometimes teachers, scenes are improvised and a myriad of conflicts arise.  Students learn ideas for avoiding conflict, cooperation, how to be aware of different emotions, the importance of making positive choices, and who to come to when they have questions.  Improvisational actors start each scene and frequently ask the students to play a key role.  Although the topic is serious and treated as such, the group always remember our roots in comedy.


Tim Oliphant – Cartoonist

        Tim Oliphant (professionally known as Mr. Ollie), has been a professional cartoonist since 1983. He’s done comic strips, editorial cartoon, humorous illustrations for magazines and ad agencies, caricatures, greeting cards, and gag cartoons for magazines appearing in local, state and national publications.
         Some publications that have published Mr. Ollie’s cartoons and illustrations include The Saturday Evening Post, Woman’s World, Highlights, Ebony, American Legion Magazine, and more. Beginning in 1986, Mr. Ollie began his work as a “teaching artist” by traveling to schools as an Artist in Residence. He has been an active member of the National Cartoonists Society since 1984 and is its former Education Committee Chairman.


The Kinningans

The Kinnigans serve up a heaping helping of foot-stomping, roof raising Irish music and dance goodness! The Kinnigans’ comfy stage presentation compliments the mastery of their music. The powerful combination of fiddle, uilleann pipes, melodeon, flute, tin whistle, banjo, guitar and vocals offers the classic traditional Irish sound best experienced live to appreciate. Their school program touches on Irish history, culture and language and encourages student participation.
The Irish have a long, rich folk arts history. Music and dance are integral to Irish arts, culture and tradition. The Kinnigans begin the program by familiarizing and warming students to Irish music and dance with a brief, lively demonstration, showing a variety of musical forms, instruments, songs and dances common to the tradition.
Students will experience and learn:
  • To value traditional music and dance.
  • How to sing a simple Irish folk song.
  • Cooperation through singing, dancing and playing instruments together.
  • Several words and phrases in the Irish language. And several volunteer students will experience:
  • A brief introduction on how to play the bodhran (Irish drum).
  • Participating in an Irish band onstage.
  • A simple Irish dance.








Piccadilly Puppets – Puppetry – “Cherokee Tales

     The Piccadilly Puppets have been entertaining and educating students for over fifty years. Their performers are professional puppeteers who also have extensive experience working with children. They use a variety of puppetry styles and offer a large repertoire of programs that relate to curriculum. They have also been awarded the UNIMA Citation for Excellence in the Art of Puppetry, and were formerly on the Artist Roster for Arts For Learning.
     Piccadilly’s Chief One Feather puppet introduces students to the history, life style, and religious practices of Georgia’s earliest inhabitants – the Cherokee.  With the help of puppets and audience volunteers, the puppeteer storyteller then recounts Cherokee creation myths about how the earth was formed, how animals came to live on the earth, and how fire was discovered.  Students learn about the achievements of this noble tribe and the journey remembered today as the Trail of Tears.  They also see the puppeteer in action, as this show takes place in the open rather than behind a curtain.


Tahino – Music – Latino Focus

     Tahino was founded in 1992 to teach children in Atlanta about the wonderful  music and culture of Latin America.  Members Otto Rondon, Mario Luque, and Gustavo Arenas were born in Merida, Venezuela, Mexico City, Mexico, and Girardot, Columbia respectively.  They offer a taste of Latin America as they take spectators on a musical journey featuring contemporary Latin music.  Tahino has been honored for its amazing performances with awards such as the Certificate of Appreciation from Georgia State University, the Cousins Middle School Certificate of Appreciation, and a Salute of Tahino from Georgia Governor Harris and Senate Committee Chair Greene.


Marquice L. Williams

      Marquice is a registered creative teaching artist with the Georgia Council for the Arts.

      Marquice’s performances will infuse original spoken word poetry, catchy melodies, and lyrical hip hop into soulful moments sure to energize the mind and body. Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 will be invited to be a part of this interactive experience that will inspire and educate them on the many ways to honor their personal journeys.
      Marquice’s exertion in the literary community has been featured in Savannah Magazine and more alongside other beautiful writers who are making a powerful impact through words. His nonstop dedication to creating safe spaces —where any individual can tell their truth— has made him an award-winning performing artist and educator. Marquice’s art documents his journey, his questions, his hopes, his flaws, his story, and our story. It is curious, thoughtful, unexpected, caring, energetic, explores the complexities of life, and inspires everyone to tap into the power of their stories.
























Carmen Deedy – Bilingual Storyteller
        Carmen Deedy is a noted bilingual storyteller and children’s author.
        Born in Havana, Cuba, Deedy came to the U. S. As a refugee in 1964.  She grew up in Decatur, Georgia where she lives today.  Deedy began writing as a young mother and storyteller whose NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia.  Many of her stories are true experiences that occurred to her as a result of her immigration to the United States.
        In addition to being a wonderful storyteller, Deedy is also well know for her beloved children’s books.  Each of her books is beautifully illustrated and exhibits wonderful morals and values.  Many of her books are written for elementary students, but have an important lesson for all ages.
        Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for the TED Conference, the Library of Congress, Refugees International, the Kennedy Center, and Columbia University.  She has also been the host of the Emmy-winning children’s program Love That Book!  Although she has shared her stories with a wide variety of people, school children are still her favorite audiences.