The carefully crafted words of poetry seem to dance though the auditorium.

Or is the graceful steps of the dancers that twirl and move to the poems read aloud?

Maybe it can be both in a rare collaboration between two art forms unfolding during a special event in Franklin on Sunday.

Words in Motion pairs local dancers from Stage 1 Dance Academy with writers from the Poetry Society of Indiana in performance. The poets’ original words have inspired choreography and dance, with each artistic expressions playing off and strengthening the other.

“I don’t see it as poetry, as dance, as painting, as sculpture. It’s all art fused together,” said John Hinton, president of the Poetry Society of Indiana.

The performance is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Performing Arts Center at Franklin Community High School. Participants hope to open the eyes of local arts lovers to the similarities and unique qualities of both dance and poetry.

“It’s such a wonderful way to look at choreography, especially from the students’ perspectives. A lot of times, they are given choreography based off a music selection; they’re basing it on what the music and the melody and the rhythm is telling them,” said Rachel Newbrough, an instructor at Stage 1 and one of the organizers of the performance. “But when we take that away and pick the poetry, we have words informing our movement decisions, it’s a totally different lens to work from.”

Words in Motion was born out of a desire to expand the activities of the Poetry Society of Indiana. The nonprofit aims to unite and support Indiana poets, promote poetry writing, and encourage diverse poetic voices in Indiana.

They do a variety of open-mic nights at coffee shops and other locations around Indiana, in addition to workshops and poetry conventions.

The society has increasingly scheduled Johnson County events, including a workshop scheduled for Wednesday at the Greenwood Public Library, as well a workshop at the Franklin branch of the Johnson County Public Library and an open-mic night at Benjamin’s Coffeehouse and Bakeshop, both on May 25.

“It’s just really interesting to collaborate with all of these different kinds of places,” Hinton said. “We want people to see that poetry is for everybody.”

But he was also looking for opportunities beyond a group of poets gathering together.

“I wanted to make sure we were actually going out and interacting with the world, to show them that poetry belons everywhere,” he said.

Hinton reached out to different organizations about collaborating on a project. He found a willing partner in Stage 1 Dance Academy. The Greenwood-based studio has a location in Frankfort as well — which is where Hinton lives.

“I thought it sounded perfect — not only to marry these two art forms together, but to marry it to our students, to allow them to update their choreographic expertise,” Newbrough said. “Our students prepare dances during the season, and we take them to different performances, but it’s something totally different to be involved in the actual creation of the choreography.”

Working together, the logistics of how a poetry-dance event would work came together. Stage 1 dancers were asked to pick a theme to build the performance around. Poetry Society of Indiana writers would take that concept and craft poems around it.

In turn, the dance studio picked a certain number of poems to choreograph routines to.

“They went through the process of picking an original poem that would be the inspiration for the choreography, then they created their pieces based on that poem,” Newbrough said. ”Then the teachers guided them through music selection and the choreographic process itself.”

The inaugural event was held in 2023 at Clinton Prairie High School in Frankfort. Poets read their writing on stage, then the dancers would do their interpretation of it.

About 100 people attended the performance. The success of the night inspired organizers to try it once again this year.

“After the first night, we thought it went so well we wanted to do it again,” Hinton said. “So we decided to do it in Franklin this year, because it’s closer to the families of a lot of the dancers, being in Greenwood.”

Stage 1 organizers have picked about 10 poems to build their choreography around. This year’s theme is “change,” which the dancers will interpret through their performances. The broad subject matter has given dancers the ability to flex their creative muscles in their routines.

“Words can bring you so much imagery. We talk about these words, what they mean to you, what movement and styles you apply to each verse, breaking it down that way,” Newbrough said.

Participants from both Stage 1 and the Poetry Society of Indiana are excited about the potential for Sunday’s performance. They hope that the community comes out to support it, and gain a better understanding about both art forms.

“Everyone thinks that poetry is for intellectuals, but it’s for everybody,” Hinton said.


Words in Motion

What: A performance blending poetry by members of the Poetry Society of Indiana and choreography from Stage 1 Dance Academy.

When: 2-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Franklin Community High School Performing Arts Center, 2600 Cumberland Drive

Cost: $15

Information and tickets: Admission can be bought at the door, at Stage 1 Dance Academy, 740 Fry Road Suite D, Greenwood, or online here.