Mayor Horrigan Announces the 2022 Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival

Acclaimed dance theater company, Pilobolus will be featured along with exceptional Ohio dance companies

For Immediate Release
Contact: City of Akron Press Office or 330-375-2754

Akron, Ohio, May 31, 2022 - Today, Mayor Horrigan announced that the City of Akron will continue its 48-year tradition of presenting free professional dance performances in city parks. The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival will once again offer three weeks filled with dance experience opportunities from July 25 through August 13.

Internationally acclaimed dance company, Pilobolus, plus respected Northeast Ohio dance companies Verb Ballets:Ohio.Contemporary.Ballet and GroundWorks DanceTheater, shape the core of the festival this year. The city will offer free Friday and Saturday night performances in Akron area parks augmented with outstanding outreach programming in neighborhoods, building on expansion from last year.

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.

Featured Dance Companies and programs

Weekend One – July 29 and 30 – Forest Lodge Park – performances at 8:45pm

  • The festival opens with Verb Ballets: Ohio.Contemporary.Ballet on July 29 and 30 at Forest Lodge Park (260 Greenwood Ave.), presenting an all-classical ballet program featuring, the Heinz Poll revival of “Rococo Variations.” This revival highlights the technical virtuosity of the dancers and the beauty of the score on cello and piano.
  • Also presented will be the iconic “Pas De Dix” from “Raymonda” by Marius Petipa, staged by Richard Dickinson and set to the score by Alexander Glazounov, described by Balanchine as “some of the finest ballet music we have.”
  • Plus enjoy a reprise of Executive Director, David Shimotakahara’s “Aperture.” This 2020 work was created as part of a two-year project with the Akron Art Museum in response to pieces in the museum’s permanent collection.

Weekend Three – August 12 and 13 – Goodyear Heights Metro Park–performances at 8:45 pm

  • The festival will close week three on August 12 and 13 at Goodyear Heights Metro Park (2077 Newton St.) with world-renowned Pilobolus, turning fifty this year! The remarkable company that secured an iconic place in American culture in the early 1970s is still wowing audiences with its irresistible mix of wit and stunning physical acumen. Now, to celebrate fifty amazing years, the BIG FIVE-OH! tour brings audiences a mix of pieces ranging from the vintage and visionary to the fresh and electrifying. And in the paradoxical Pilobolus tradition of breaking with tradition, the tour presents works dynamically reimagined for a never-before-seen Pilobolus experience.

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.

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, the dance festival’s expanded programming will continue to reach into three additional neighborhoods with an interactive performance event each week during the festival. Inlet Dance Theatre, whose core strengths reside equally in performance and education, will collaborate with Djapo Cultural Arts Institute, to create and perform a new performance event at 1pm at City of Akron community center locations: Joy Park (July 25), Patterson Park (August 3), and Summit Lake (August 10).

Inlet Dance Theatre and Djapo will also provide teachers for the free young children’s beginner dance classes to be held at City community centers in Firestone Park (July 26-28), Reservoir Park (August 2-4) and Northwest (August 9-11). The festival will be able to reach into a total of 6 neighborhoods over three weeks.

The University of Akron remains the dance festival’s 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, in collaboration with ArtSparks, a new participant this year, offers their extremely popular pre-show interactive program that allows young children to learn a bit of dance and experience what it is like to be on stage.

The festival continues to work with partners Summit DD and Direction Home to explore new ways to improve accessibility to the free park performances and improve inclusivity for everyone, supplying sensory bags, information, and programs with larger print.

The City of Akron sponsors and presents the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, receiving major support from generous funders including but not limited to, founding and sustaining sponsor, Akron Community Foundation, along with Peg’s Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, and new festival sponsor, Hilton Garden Inn. These sponsors allow the festival to bring excellent and respected professional dance companies to different Akron neighborhoods free of charge, as a gift to the community of the performing arts.

The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival relies solely on the assistance of generous funders and sponsors, as well as donations from friends and individuals of the festival. Anyone interested in donating can do so via the website or by contacting 330-990-5263.

For More Information please visit
Jane Startzman, Director, Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival,