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Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival beginning

7/21/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Akron continues tradition of free dance performances

The Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival will open with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company at Hardesty Park July 22-23.
Photo courtesy of the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival
GREATER AKRON — The city of Akron will continue its 37-year tradition of presenting free dance performances in the parks during the summer and honoring the legacy of the founding artistic director of Ohio Ballet, Heinz Poll, with the fifth annual Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival.

New for the 2011 season are classic works by regional companies choreographed by Poll himself, plus a new work set to the music of Akron’s own rocker Chrissie Hynde and the addition of Akron Symphony Orchestra concerts on dance weekends, according to city officials.

The festival opens with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company at Hardesty Park July 22-23. It continues with the Verb Ballets at Firestone Park July 29-30, David Shimotakahara’s GroundWorks Dance Theater at Glendale Cemetery Aug. 5-6 and Neos Dance Theatre at Goodyear Heights Metro Park Aug. 12-13. All performances will begin at 8:45 p.m. with a children’s interactive program starting at 7:45 p.m. each night presented by The University of Akron (UA) Dance Institute.

According to Jane Startzman, director of the festival, the companies are still determining what works they will perform at the various sites, but a few are already known and they tie in nicely with Akron history. When “Song Without Words” is performed, the accompanying music will be played live by pianist David Fisher, who played for years with the Ohio Ballet under Poll and originated this particular musical piece. Additionally, he will play the music at the performances for the Poll ballet “Schubert Waltzes,” which will be performed by Neos Dance Theatre.

GroundWorks Dance Theatre will stage artistic director Shimotakahara’s homage to Hynde in a multi-media piece choreographed by internationally renowned director/choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett and video projection designer Adam Larsen. The work, which is a play on words called “Hindsight,” will be set to the music of Hynde, of The Pretenders, and will include costumes by former Cleveland San Jose Ballet dancer Victoria Mearini.

Startzman said the companies involved will be branching into the community with programs that will make this a significant city dance event. Each of the dance troupes will host a master class at the UA Center for Dance and Theatre in Guzzetta Hall from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Saturdays that they perform. Each class is limited to 30 students of intermediate or better abilities. For more details, call 330-972-7948 or email dance@uakron .edu.

Since Verb Ballets will be setting an old Poll classic ballet, “Song Without Words,” which has the Holocaust as a theme, it will conduct a free lecture/demonstration illustrating Poll’s ideas for constructing the ballet at the Shaw Jewish Community Center, 750 White Pond Drive, July 27 at 7 p.m.

According to Startzman, Summa Sports Medicine Specialists will conduct a workshop on “dancer injuries, treatment and how they differ from the norm” Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at the UA Center for Dance and Theatre. Debra Force, a former dancer with the Ohio Ballet, is now a practicing physical therapist and will be a part of the presentation team. Participants must register by Aug. 1 by calling 330-972-9229.

Startzman said Neos Dance Theatre will host a liturgical dance workshop at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, 1430 Goodyear Blvd., Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. The theme of the event with be “Celebrating God through Dance,” Startzman said.

All the workshops and lectures are provided free to the public.

The dance festival also will offer a bonus performance in collaboration with The Cleveland Orchestra and The Joffrey Ballet at Blossom Music Center Aug. 20-21 at 8 p.m. For ticket information, go to www.clevelandorchestra.com.

According to city of Akron officials, the city will extend the use of its weekend dance stage to Sunday nights this summer, for a series of four concerts by the Akron Symphony Orchestra. Performances under the direction of Christopher Wilkins will be: July 24 at Hardesty Park, July 31 at Firestone Park, Aug. 7 at Glendale Cemetery and Aug. 14 at Goodyear Heights Metro Park.

For more on the festival, visit akrondancefestival.org.

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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