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The City of Akron Celebrates 47th Year of Free Summer Dance Performances at the 14th Annual Heinz Poll Dance Festival


New interactive Showmobile events, free classes for children and Sunday Symphony Ensembles extend the arts experience

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of City of Akron Press Office
Published: 05-12-2021

Akron, Ohio, May 12, 2021 — For the 47th year, the City of Akron will present free professional dance performances in city parks this summer. The 14th annual Heinz Poll Dance Festival is unique among American cities.

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

Heinz Poll began the summer series in 1974 with his company of dancers that became Ohio Ballet, and continued the tradition until the company closed in 2006. The City of Akron created the festival in 2007 in recognition of the legacy of the internationally-recognized choreographer and founding artistic director of Ohio Ballet.

The dates, the companies, and the locations for this year’s Heinz Poll Festival are as follows:

            July 30,31        Verb Ballets                                        Goodyear Metropolitan Park

            Aug 6,7            GroundWorks Dance Theater             Firestone Park    

            Aug 13,14        Dayton Contemporary Dance Co.       Forest Lodge Park

The dance programs are presented at 8:45pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. Guests are invited to bring blankets and/or a chair.

A children’s program begins at 7:45pm each night produced by The University of Akron’s Dance Institute just before the professional companies perform. Children are encouraged to participate on the grass in front of the stage this year, due to COVID-19 safety and health requirements. The festival’s partnership with the University of Akron includes master classes by the visiting companies during the festival - offered every Saturday morning at 11am.

Free Beginners’ Classes for Youngsters

As part of its outreach program to neighborhoods in which the performances occur each week, the City of Akron’s Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival is presenting free “Beginners Dance” classes in three community centers each week of the festival. Children eligible for the free classes are those going into the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. The classes will be held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:30 – 11:30 am:

            July 27-29 at Reservoir Park Community Center

            Aug. 3-5 at Firestone Park Community Center

            Aug. 10-12 at Forest Lodge Community Center

All classes are taught by professional dancers with Inlet Dance Theatre. The sessions are free, and no prior experience is necessary. Registration will be required and masks must be worn inside the community centers. To register, email Heinz Poll Director, Jane Startzman at [email protected] with how many kids will be attending, names, ages, which event, and a phone number.

NEW - Showmobile interactive dance events – Inlet Dance Theatre

New this year, the festival will present Inlet Dance Theatre, in 3 showmobile interactive performance events for children and adults alike, centering around the theme of “Racial Identity and Social Justice.” The company will perform and encourage attendee participation and interaction on the grass in front of the stage. Participants should maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and others not in their household. These events will take place in 3 park neighborhoods that are new to the dance festival. The exact locations of the showmobile will be shared closer to the event but general locations and the times are listed below:

            July 28 at 3pm – Joy Park Community Center

            Aug. 4 at 2pm – Patterson Park Community Center

            Aug. 11 at 2pm – Summit Lake Community Center

Dance Stage to be shared with Akron Symphony Ensemble on Sundays

The City of Akron will extend the use of its weekend dance stage to Sunday nights again this summer for a series of three free admission concerts by the Akron Symphony Ensemble, under the direction of Christopher Wilkins and Eric Benjamin. Each ensemble performance begins at 7:30pm. The schedule is as follows:

            August 1                      Goodyear Metropolitan Park                         

            August 8                      Firestone Park            

            August 15                    Forest Lodge Park

**Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the dance festival will abide by all health and safety guidelines as outlined by Summit County Public Health.                        

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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