Heinz Poll, Founder of Ohio Ballet, Dies at 80

Classic Arts News   Heinz Poll, Founder of Ohio Ballet, Dies at 80
Heinz Poll, who founded Ohio Ballet in 1968 and directed the company for three decades, died yesterday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Born in Germany, Poll danced in East Berlin's Berlin State Opera Ballet before escaping to the West. In the 1950s, he danced and choreographed for the National Ballet of Chile. After retiring from performance in 1965, he taught at Kent State University and the University of Akron.

In 1968, Poll formed Chamber Ballet, a student company at the University of Akron. The company was later renamed Ohio Chamber Ballet and eventually Ohio Ballet. With lighting designer Thomas Skelton, his life partner, Poll raised the company's profile, touring around the world and establishing seasons in Cleveland and Akron.

According to the Plain Dealer, Ohio Ballet was known under Poll's leadership for its "clarity, precision, lean look, and distinctive style." He created more than 60 ballets before retiring in 1999.

After his retirement, Poll distanced himself from the company, which has struggled financially. In 2002, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal, he told his successor, Jeffrey Graham Hughes, to remove him from the company's printed materials. "It's not the kind of company I would have wanted to have," he told the paper at the time. "It clashes totally with my personal aesthetics."

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