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Akron, Ohio

The 14th Annual Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival to Offer Exceptional Ohio Dance Companies and New Programming


City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of City of Akron Press Office
Published: 07-08-2021

Akron, Ohio, July 8, 2021 — The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, sponsored by the City of Akron, will once again offer three weeks filled with dance experience opportunities beginning July 27 through August 14. This is the 47th year the City of Akron will present free professional dance performances in city parks for the community.

“We're proud to be part of such a long standing summer dance festival that brings the highest quality professional dance companies to our residents and guests for free,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said.

Respected Northeast Ohio dance companies shape the core of the festival this year, with free Friday and Saturday night performances in Akron area parks. The festival will also be augmented this year with new programming.

Featured Dance Companies and programs

The festival opens with Verb Ballets on Friday July 30, and Saturday July 31 at 8:45pm at Goodyear Metro Park, presenting two Heinz Poll revivals. Both are classical ballet pieces. “Rococo Variations,” highlights the technical virtuosity of the dancers and the beauty of the score on cello and piano, while “Triptych,” which was a staple in Heinz Poll’s Ohio Ballet repertory has not been seen in over thirty years. The ballet, set to Mendelsohn's Piano Concerto #2 embodies the glowing romanticism of the music. Associate Artistic Director, Richard Dickinson, has restaged both works, and choreographed a third piece, entitled KL3668 which is characterized by smooth balletic movement infused throughout with snippets of Bob Fosse jazz and classic modern dance phrases.

The second weekend, Friday, August 6 and Saturday, August 7 at 8:45pm will feature GroundWorks Dance Theater at Firestone Park. Their program will feature “Axis,” a new work by Adam Barruch, originally created for film and reimagined for the stage. Attendees will also be the first to see the newly staged version of “INSIDE,” by Cleveland-native Antonio Brown, and finally, the company will bring back the delightful and moving “Sud Buster’s Dream” by GroundWorks’ founding Executive Artistic Director David Shimotakahara, which premiered in 2019.

The festival will close week three on Friday, August 13 and Saturday, August 14 at Forest Lodge Park at 8:45pm with the world renowned Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). DCDC brings back to life some of their more riveting dance works, featuring Traffic created by Chief Artistic & Producing Director Debbie Blunden-Diggs, and Nourishing Routes by emerging choreographer Countess Winfrey. 

All three companies will offer master classes for advanced dance students at the University of Akron on Saturday mornings at 11 am during the festival weeks. Registration is required. See website for details.

Festival director, Jane Startzman emphasizes the importance of presenting new work as well as established choreography, “It is part of our mission to present our audiences with dance that may be familiar as well as the new and unexpected. We strive to offer something for everyone.”

New partnerships and expanded programming

This year, for the first time, the dance festival is bringing expanded programming to Akron, reaching into a total of 6 neighborhoods over 3 weeks. Thanks to additional support from the National Endowment of the Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the festival will be able to reach into three new neighborhoods with an interactive Showmobile event each Wednesday afternoon during the festival. Inlet Dance Theatre, a new dance company partner to the festival, will focus on the theme of racial identity and social justice. Joined by Talise Campbell and Djapo Cultural Arts Institute – featuring W. African dancers, the Showmobile events will take place at City of Akron community center locations: Joy Park on July 27 at 3pm, North Hill on August 4 at 2pm, and Summit Lake on August 11 at 2pm. Inlet Dance Theatre and Djapo Cultural Arts Institute will also teach free children’s beginner dance classes at City community centers in Reservoir Park, Firestone Park and Forest Lodge. All classes are from 10:30am to 11:30am., Tuesday through Thursday each of the three weeks. See for dates.

The Festival is working with new partners, Summit DD and Direction Home, to explore ways to improve accessibility to the free park performances and improve inclusivity for everyone, including supplying sensory bags and programs with larger print, as well as a kiosk where patrons can obtain information, and assistance. For those unable to attend the performances at the parks in person, these partners will host private watch parties at select group homes and assisted living facilities throughout the area presenting filmed highlights of this unique outdoor experience.

The University of Akron remains the residency partner, providing studio space and residency activity support for all artists, and young dancers who attend the master classes. The Dance Institute, also presented by the University of Akron, offers their extremely popular pre-show interactive program at 7:45pm each Friday and Saturday evening of the festival, allowing young children to learn a bit of dance, and experience what it is like to be onstage.

The City of Akron sponsors and presents the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, receiving major support from generous funders. The founding and sustaining sponsor, Akron Community Foundation, along with Peg’s Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Musson Family Foundation help make this festival possible. Their support helps bring excellent and respected professional dance companies to different Akron neighborhoods free of charge, which is a gift to the community of the performing arts.

Please refer to for a full schedule and additional details on dates and times.

Because the Festival relies solely on the assistance of generous funders and sponsors, as well as friends and individuals of the Festival, donations of any amount are welcome and encouraged for those who are able to give. The individual support of community members helps to develop new partnerships and collaborations, present more outstanding dance artists, and reach into more neighborhoods.  Donations are accepted at via credit card.

For More Information please visit
Jane Startzman, Director, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival,
            330.990.5263, [email protected]

For further information, contact:
Jane Startzman
Director, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival
Phone: 330.990.5263
E-mail: [email protected]

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