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Akron Celebrates 45th year of Free Summer Dance Performances - The 12th Annual Heinz Poll Dance Festival


Sunday Symphonies and free classes for children extend the arts experience

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt, Press Secretary
Published: 07-10-2018

Akron, Ohio, July 10, 2018 For the 45th consecutive year, the City of Akron will present four weekends of free professional dance performances in city parks this summer. The 12th annual Heinz Poll Dance Festival is unique among American cities.

“Akron is the only community in the United States that has established a free summer festival featuring the highest quality professional dance companies and sustained it for so many years,” 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 2018 season is supported in part through the Akron Knight Arts Challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that provides funding for professional performing artists.

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

July 27, 28      Verb Ballets   Firestone Park

Aug 3, 4         GroundWorks Dance Theater   Glendale Cemetery

Aug 10, 11     Neos Dance Theatre    Hardesty Park

Aug 17, 18   Dayton Contemporary Dance  Goodyear Metro Park

The dance programs are presented at 8:45pm on Friday and Saturday evenings.

A children’s program begins at 7:45pm each night produced by the University of Akron’s Dance Institute. Children are encouraged to have their first experience on the festival stage just before the professional companies perform.  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 and Peg’s Foundation are supporting free “Beginners Dance” classes in four 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 24-26  at Firestone Park Community Center
  • July 31 – Aug. 2 at Balch Street Community Center
  • August 7 –9 at Northwest Community Center
  • August 14 – 16 at Reservoir Park Community Center

All classes are taught by professional dancers. The sessions are free, and no prior experience or advance registration is necessary.

Dance Stage to be shared with Akron Symphony 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 four free admission concerts by the Akron Symphony Orchestra., under the direction of Christopher Wilkins. Each symphony performance begins at 7:30pm. The schedule for 2018 is as follows:

July 29 , Firestone Park 

 Aug 5, Glendale Cemetery

Aug 12, Hardesty Park

Aug 19, Goodyear Metro Park

All concerts feature the “Maestro’s Zone” for children, where they will have a chance to conduct the orchestra with the maestro.


A founding sponsor of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival is Akron Community Foundation, which manages endowments established for Ohio Ballet created by the Knight and GAR Foundations.

The festival also receives support from the Ohio Arts Council, and “Friends of the Festival,” individuals who have made contributions in Poll’s memory and in support of continuing the summer tradition.

For More Information:

Jane Startzman, Director, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, 330-990-5263 or [email protected]

Paul Jarrett, Executive Director, Akron Symphony, 330.535.8131.

Dave Lieberth, 234.738.0003 or [email protected]


For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary / Assistant Director of Law
166 South High Street
Akron OH 44308
Phone: 3303752325
E-mail: [email protected]

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