Sunday Symphonies and free classes for children extend the arts experience

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 07-01-2019

For the 46th consecutive year, the City of Akron will present free professional dance performances in city parks this summer as part of the 13th annual Heinz Poll Dance Festival.

“The Heinz Poll Dance Festival is unique among American cities, and remains a valued part of our summer cultural offerings,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said.  “This summer, we are proud to once again feature the highest quality professional dance companies during this free community festival.”

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

  • July 26, 27 - Verb Ballets - Forest Lodge Park
  • Aug. 2, 3 - GroundWorks Dance Theater - Goodyear Metropolitan Park
  • Aug. 9, 10 - Neos Dance Theatre - Firestone Park
The dance programs are presented beginning at 8:45pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. Guests are invited to bring blankets and/or chairs.

Children are encouraged to have their first experience on the festival stage just before the professional companies perform.  A children’s program begins at 7:45pm each night, produced by the University of Akron’s Dance Institute.  The festival’s partnership with the University of Akron also includes master classes involving the visiting companies, offered every Saturday morning at 11am during the festival dates.

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 three community centers each week of the festival.  Children eligible for the classes are those entering the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.  The classes will be held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30–11:30 am:

  • July 23 – 25 - Forest Lodge Community Center
  • July 30 – Aug. 1 - Reservoir Park Community Center
  • Aug. 6 – 8 - Firestone Park Community Center
All classes are taught by professional dancers.  The sessions are free, and no prior experience or advance registration is necessary.

All programs are subject to change.  Photos and choreographer bios or interviews available upon request by contacting Jen Garlando at

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 the Akron Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Parks Series—a series of three free-admission orchestra concerts, under the direction of Christopher Wilkins.  Each symphony performance begins at 7:30pm.  The schedule for 2019 is as follows:

  • July 28 - Forest Lodge Park
  • Aug. 4 - Goodyear Metropolitan Park
  • Aug. 11 - Firestone Park
All concerts feature the “Maestro’s Zone” for children, where they will have an opportunity to conduct the orchestra with the maestro.

The weekend dance and orchestra concerts are underwritten by the City of Akron, with support from the 2019 Stage Sponsor The University of Akron.  Support is also provided by Peg’s Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.  The founding sponsor is Akron Community Foundation, which manages endowments established for Ohio Ballet, created by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the GAR Foundation.

For More Information:

Jane Startzman, Director, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, 330.990.5263,

Paul Jarrett, Manager, Akron Symphony, 330.535.8131

Dave Lieberth, 234.738.0003,