Neos Dance Theatre leads off Heinz Poll Dance Festival

Arts / Article

Dancing in the parks. It’s a great summertime activity – and it’s free. The City of Akron has been putting on free dance performances for 37 years straight now since the former Ohio Ballet offered to tour the metropolitan park system and dance out of doors.

It’s been a rousing success all that time. Since the retirement of Ohio Ballet founder Heinz Poll and the end of the Ohio Ballet a few years later, Akron has continued the tradition as the Heinz Poll Dance Festival for the past six years.

Four weekends of four different high-quality ballet companies are what is in store: Neos Dance Theatre (a Knight Arts grantee), The Martha Graham Dance Company, GroundWorks Dancetheater (a Knight Arts grantee), and the Cincinnati Ballet.

First up is Neos Dance Theatre in Hardesty Park in west Akron on Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, at 8:45 p.m.

Based in Mansfield’s Renaissance Theatre, Neos considers itself a dual citizen of Akron, according to event officials. The company recently appeared throughout the downtown area during one of the monthly Downtown Artwalks.

Neos considers itself a group of dancers who “are diverse individuals sharing in a common goal of creating atmospheric, theatrical energy on the stage and in the studio that communicate our lives, our social responsibilities and our call to work,” as their mission states.

They are certainly exuberant, witty and highly theatrical in performances for anyone who has seen them. They don’t just dance well. They enjoy great performance and technique and its shows in their performances.

For Akron audiences, they will stage five works beginning with “Lickety-Split,” which was choreographed by dancer Alejandro Curredo of Hubbard Street Dance to the music of Devendra Banhart.

Bobby Wesner and Mary Elizabeth Fenn in scene from “Lickety-Split.” Photo by Dale Dong

Following that will be two pieces created by Neos artistic directory Bobby Wesner – his “Story Ballets” that include a feature of the legend of Dracula and his “Pas de deux” to Sergei Prokofiev music for “Romeo and Juliet.”

Neos dancers Brooke Wesner and Juris Safronovs. Photo by Jeff Sprang

Next will be selections from a work by resident choreographer Mary Elizabeth Fenn entitled “Creole Cinderella.”

Bobby Wesner and Mary Elizabeth Fenn in Fenn’s “Creole Cinderella.” Photo by Jeff Sprang

Last on the bill will be a new work and the premiere of Wesner’s “Homage,” a paean to Brazilian music composer Heitor Villa Lobos, who has been described as Latin America’s “most significant” composer.

For a look at Neos at work onstage, click here.

Neos Dance Theatre at the Heinz Poll Dance Festival, Hardesty Park, 1615 W. Market St., Akron; 330-535-3179; www.akrondancefestival.org. Neos will appear July 27-28 at 8:45 p.m. Admission is free.