Verb Ballets honors Heinz Poll while presenting a bold new reinterpretation

Collaboration with world renowned guitarist, Neil Zaza and choreographer Sabatino Verlezza

CLEVELAND, OH (July 7, 2019) - Verb Ballets has commissioned The Adagio Reimagined Project in partnership with Jane Startzman featuring collaborating artists Neil Zaza and Sabatino Verlezza.  The Adagio Reimagined Project will honor the legacy of Heinz Poll while presenting a bold new reinterpretation of the work featuring musical accompaniment by renowned instrumental rock guitarist, Zaza.  The company will remount Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers with permission of Jane Startzman.  The original work was created in 1973 to the music Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ.  The ballet was danced in gold unitards and features striking sculptural poses with meticulous partnering giving the dancers a deity like quality.

The Adagio Reimagined Project was conceived as a unique way to commemorate the work of Heinz Poll and allow the work to be brought into the present with a modern interpretation.  The idea came about when Festival Director, Jane Startzman heard Akron rock guitarist, Zaza performing a musical interpretation of Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the Akron Civic Theatre.  She found the reconstructed score breathtaking and was reminded of her time dancing Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers.  Startzman is the regisseur for the work and brought together Zaza and the Producing Artistic Director of Verb Ballets, Dr. Margaret Carlson, to the bring with work and music back to the stage.

Choreographer Sabatino Verlezza will create the new work the week of July 8-12, 2019 to Zaza’s rock score of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor.  Verlezza was a soloist with the May O’Donnell Dance Company and has danced with among many other prominent artists.  He served as co-artistic director/choreographer of Dancing Wheels and Founder/Artistic Director of Verlezza Dance presenting his works nationally and internationally.  The piece will embrace a de-constructed narrative through a modern lens.  With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury.  Together these artists will reimagine the classic to demonstrate classical prowess with rock virtuosity.

Verb Ballets is the company with the largest repository of Heinz Poll’s works and the second company to ever perform the original duet since Ohio Ballet.  Associate Artistic Director, Richard Dickinson danced it under Poll and is helping with the restaging of the work.  The Adagio Reimagined Project will be featured on the program at the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival on July 26 and 27, 2019.

Verb Ballets performs at The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival on July 26 & 27, 2019 at 8:45pm at a new location in West Akron at Forest Lodge Park.  Guests are invited to bring blankets and/or a chair.  Onstage children's activities will be led by the Dance Institute starting at 7:45pm.  Verb Ballets’ performance begins at 8:45pm.  Forest Lodge Park is located at 260 Greenwood Ave, Akron, OH 44313.  Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival performances are free and open to the public.

July 26 - 27, 2019 8:45PM
Verb Ballets at the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival
Forest Lodge Park 260 Greenwood Ave, Akron, OH 44313

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

About Verb Ballets
One of Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most respected dance companies, Verb Ballets has gained a reputation for artistic excellence and exemplary community engagement since 1987.  Under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Carlson, former principal dancer for Cleveland Ballet, and Richard Dickinson, MFA, former Ohio Ballet dancer, the company is committed to the creation and mounting of dance works of the highest caliber.  The company strives to act as a catalyst to promote learning, nurture wellness, and encourage dialogue about the dance art form.  As a contemporary ballet company, the dancers combine classical ballet training with strong artistry.  Internationally acclaimed, the company has toured Cuba and Taiwan.  Additional information can be found at

Verb Ballets performances are made possible through the generous support of The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Ohio Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Shah Capital Management, Millie Carlson Trust, Peg's Foundation, Lubrizol Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, The Akron Community Foundation, John P. Murphy Foundation, Lubrizol Foundation, RPM, Dominion, Margaret Wong & Associates, St. Ignatius and Cedar Hill Communications.

Verb Ballets 3558 Lee Rd. Shaker Heights, OH 44122 • 216-397-3757 •
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Choreographer Bios

Heinz Poll
Heinz Poll was born in Oberhausen, Germany, in 1926. Poll was a champion ice skater before he became a dancer.  His experience on the rinks imbued him with a love of speed that he expressed in his athletic baroque ballet, Cascade (1985).  After World War II, he studied dance at Joss’s Folkwang School in Essen, began his professional career at the Municipal Theatre in Goettingen and became a principal dancer with the Berlin State Opera Ballet.  In 1951, he joined the National Ballet of Chile as a dancer, ballet master, and teacher.  The company’s tradition of bringing serious programs to indigenous people in remote mountain villages served as the model for Ohio Ballet’s Summer Festival of free outdoor performances.  In 1962, Poll joined Ballet de Jeunesse Musicales de France as ballet master.  Two years later, he came to the United States as a guest artist with the Chilean company.  He performed in the American Dance Festival the following summer and stayed in New York to teach at Thalia Mara’s National Academy of Ballet.  In Akron, he developed Ohio Ballet into one of America’s most polished, respected, and widely traveled chamber dance troupes.  Poll was awarded the Association of Ohio Dance Companies Award in 1983, the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1995, and the Ohio Arts Council’s Governor’s Award in 1999.  After his retirement, he wrote his memoir and has conferred a number of his ballets to former Ohio Ballet dancers.  Poll passed away in 2006.

Sabatino Verlezza
Sabatino Verlezza danced with the May O’Donnell Dance Company (soloist) and Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Sophie Maslow, Norman Walker, Glenn-Lund Dance, and Dances/Janet Soares, among other artists.  He has choreographed for numerous companies/individuals including the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Joffrey II, Christopher Walken, Ben Vereen, and Billy Idol.  He served as co-artistic director/choreographer of Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels, a company of professional dancers with and without disabilities.  Since 1988, he has been Founder/Artistic Director of Verlezza Dance presenting his works nationally and internationally.  Recently, Sabatino created a dance opera, ICARUS RISING with composer Elliot Sokolov, and co-choreographed Carmina Burana at Montclair State University.  He currently performs with Verlezza Dance, Claire Porter/Portables, Meredith Fages and Heidi Lasky Dance.  He is a certified Pilates Instructor and with Nancy Lushington and Barbara Allegra Verlezza is a Certifier of the May O’Donnell Dance Technique and Repertory.  Sabatino is co-founder of ILLUMINATIONS Dance Company, an ensemble of multi-generational and nontraditional dancers based in St. Louis; and with certified dog trainer Suzanne Kalafian, 6 Hairy Legs, a dance-fitness platform for dogs and their human pets based in NC and OH.  Sabatino is honored to work with Verb Ballets.

Neil Zaza Not only has guitarist Neil Zaza helped to define the genre of melodic instrumental guitar, he has become a worldwide ambassador for the instrument itself.  His melodic compositions have changed the way musicians play, and what audiences worldwide demand out of their guitar heroes.  With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Neil Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury.  From his virtuoso rock solos, to laying a funk groove, to demonstrating his classical prowess by performing Bach and Mozart compositions, Zaza’s extreme versatility has been showcased worldwide in concerts, clinics, festivals, as well as on his own solo instrumental albums.  Zaza has shared the bill with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Steve & Mike Porcaro (Toto), Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, and Andy Summers among countless others. He has performed on albums by Dweezil Zappa, Eric Carmen, Michael Stanley and also supplied guitar tracks for a Stewart Copeland-produced movie soundtrack.

It all began… in Akron, Ohio, where Neil Zaza was born, and still resides. Zaza started playing guitar at the age of 10 and went on to study classical guitar at The University of Akron under renowned educator and performer Stephen Aron.  Zaza began to teach guitar, and in 1987 he formed the rock band Zaza, which quickly became one of the hottest U.S. touring bands at that time.  After a successful run and even a hit song “Maybe Tomorrow”, the band disbanded, and a brilliant solo career began.###

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,