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Arts and Entertainment

Ballet under the stars
Free performances in the parks and Akron tradition

Mark Urycki
The Martha Graham Dance Co. at Goodyear Metro park in Akron
Courtesy of urycki
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In The Region:

   The Heinz Poll Dance Festival has been attracting audiences this month in Akron.  It’s the sixth year for the collection of professional dance companies performing for free in various parks around the city.  Even the famed Martha Graham Dance Company performed last weekend.  

    Ballet seems to be sparking new interest nationwide with the movie “The Black Swan,” several recent documentary films, and a new reality TV show "Breaking Pointe" about Salt lake City's Ballet West.  WKSU’s Mark Urycki spoke with Festival Director Jane Startzman and found that ballet is nothing new for Akronites.

Startzman interview

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   Jane Startzman was there at the beginning- a young dancer with Heinz Poll when he formed the Ohio Ballet in 1974 and began the summer dances under the stars in 1975.  Although other companies around the country have dipped their toes into free dances in the parks, Akron led the way.  Even facing serious a budget crunch the city continues to help fund the series. Jane Startzman says neighborhoods feel an ownership and by now,  several generations have made it a summer ritual. 

The Fest is now eight days in August over 4 weekends.  This weekend (Aug 10 & 11) Cleveland’s Groundworks Dance Company performs at Glendale Cemetery in downtown Akron. Next week the Cincinatti Ballet performs at Firestone Park. 

Related Links & Resources
Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival site

NEOS Dance Theatre

Martha Graham Dance Co.

GroundWorks Dance Theater

Cincinnati Ballet

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