The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival will be overseen by co-founder and Festival Director Jane Startzman, a former dancer and Executive Assistant to the late Heinz Poll with Ohio Ballet. Tuesday Musical Association of Akron is the financial manager for the dance festival.

Jane Startzman - Festival Director

Jane is Festival Director and co-founder with Dave Lieberth of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival. She joined Heinz Poll’s Ohio Ballet in 1969, as a dancer during its second year and danced major roles in nearly all of his ballets until her retirement from dance in 1989. As a company member, Ms. Startzman was also selected to dance principal roles in works by other master choreographers including Paul Taylor, George Balanchine, Laura Dean, Robert Joffrey, Anna Sokolow, Ruthana Boris and Pilobolus.

She traveled with the company on tour throughout the United States, South America and Central America. As a guest artist, Ms. Startzman performed with Ballet Puertoriqueno, directed by Ramon Segarra, and the Tampa Ballet. From 1989-1999, she was Artistic Administrator/Company Manager of Heinz Poll’s Ohio Ballet . Ms. Startzman has been on the part-time faculty for The University of Akron and has also taught for the Dance Institute of The University of Akron. She owns licenses to 5 of Heinz Poll’s ballets, and has restaged his “Elegiac Song” for the Ohio Ballet in 2001 and for Verb Ballets in 2005, 2009 and “Adagio For Two Dancers” in 2009. Ms. Startzman is a 2021 Arts Alive award winner as an Outstanding Artist in Dance.

Dennis Dugan - Technical Director/Lighting Designer

Dennis’s fascination for light began in the seventies at Ohio University. It has lead him to work in all the forms of live performance in theatre and dance venues from New York to Los Angeles and all the states in between. Currently, Dennis works with GroundWorks Dance Theater, Neos Dance Theatre, Ballet Excel Ohio, Rhythm in Shoes, Inlet Dance Theatre, Dancing Wheels and The University of Akron.

Although dance is his favorite performance art, Dennis also enjoys exploring sculpture, photography, and lighting public art. Dennis is a board member of Ohio Dance, a membership and service organization serving the dance community of Ohio. He was a recipient of the Ohio Dance Award for outstanding contribution in to dance in Ohio in 1997.

Dave Lieberth – Co-Founder

Mr. Lieberth co-founded the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival with Jane Startzman and has managed the program for the City of Akron from 2006 until 2020. Without Dave’s devotion and dedication, we would not have a Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival.

For Dave, the festival has been a personal matter. Not only was he the stage announcer for Ohio Ballet’s final performance on August 6, 2006 at Goodyear Metropolitan Park, but in 1968, as a 21 year old junior at The University of Akron, he was a technician, overseeing the audio playback of music for the very first performance of Heinz Poll’s company.

Lieberth’s daughter, Kate Lytton had a professional ballet career and began her love for dance at the Ohio Ballet’s Summer Festival performances when she was very young.

Founding Steering Committee

  • Dr.Margaret Carlson, Producing ArtisticDirector, Verb Ballets.
  • Lana Carroll Haylock, Former School of Dance, Theater & Arts Administration, the University of Akron.
  • Dave Lieberth, Co-Founder, Chairman, former Deputy Mayor, the City of Akron.
  • Christine Mayer and Leslie Nelson, The GAR Foundation.
  • Christine Meneer, Artistic Director, Ballet Theatre of Ohio.
  • Neil Sapienza, Director, School of Dance, Theater & Arts Administration, the University of Akron.
  • David Shimotakahara, Executive Artistic Director, Groundworks Dance Theater.
  • Jane Startzman, founding Festival Director.