Dance in Northeast Ohio


HIDDEN GEMS: Cleveland Area /Akron Area

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS: ClevelandSuburbs West,  Suburbs East,  Suburbs South


The thriving ballet and contemporary dance scene in Northeast Ohio may be one of the region’s best kept secrets. That may be changing, however. In 2019, Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, chose to host its annual conference at Playhouse Square, affirming the region’s relevance in the dance world. Here are just a few ways to experience performances in the area:

Akron Dance Festival (Summit County)
Sponsored by the city of Akron, in collaboration with the University of Akron Dance Institute, this annual festival continues the city’s longstanding tradition of offering free ballet in the parks by professional dance companies from around the state. The festival features 16-18 ballets as well as an interactive children’s program that invites young members of the audience to join dancers on the stage. (330.990.5263;

Canton Ballet (Stark County)
The School of Canton Ballet, a dance institute offering training for toddlers through adults, includes a pre-professional ballet company of approximately 47 teens. The company gives several performances at the Canton Palace Theatre, including an annual production of The Nutcracker. (1001 Market Avenue N., Canton 44702; 330.455.7220;

Cleveland Ballet (Cuyahoga County)
As the resident ballet company at Playhouse Square, the recently reincarnated Cleveland Ballet is in its seventh season, bringing professional classical and contemporary ballet programs to the North Coast under the direction of Gladisa Guadalupe. Guadalupe is an alumna of the School of American Ballet in New York, where she studied under George Balanchine. Twenty-nine dancers from eleven different countries perform under her artistic direction. (1511 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland 44115 216.320.9000;

Dancer-illusionists, MOMIX, is just one of the many performances presented by DANCECleveland. / Photo: PCharles Paul Azzopardi

DANCECleveland (Cuyahoga County)
As one of just a handful of stand-alone, dance-only presenting organizations in the United States, DANCECleveland has a six-decade-long history of curating distinguished, boundary-pushing annual series of modern and contemporary dance performances. DANCECleveland, which calls Playhouse Square its home, has brought some of the world’s leading professional dance companies to the stages of Northeast Ohio, including Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Beijing Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Parsons Dance, Compagnie Herve Koubi of France and Rubberband of Canada. (216.991.9000;

Groundworks Dance Theater (Cuyahoga County)
GroundWorks DanceTheater, based in Cleveland, is a groundbreaking contemporary dance company that explores the human experience through unique and adventurous choreography. GroundWorks’ repertory includes 34 commissioned premieres from nationally and internationally acclaimed choreographers. This small but mighty ensemble tours regionally and nationally, performing at both major venues and unconventional settings, from Playhouse Square to the Akron Public Library. (216.751.0088;

Kent Dance Ensemble (Stark County)
Since its inception in 1990, the Kent Dance Ensemble, Kent State's School of Theatre and Dance pre-professional dance company, has been introducing its repertory of modern and jazz dance to audiences of all ages throughout Northeast Ohio. The ensemble has performed at such prestigious venues as Terrace Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the KeyBank State Theatre in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Its annual dance concert at E. Turner Stump Theatre on the Kent State campus features choreography from Kent State School of Theatre and Dance faculty members. (1325 Theatre Drive, Kent 44242; 330.672.2787.1325;

Ohio Conservatory of Ballet (Summit County)
Specializing in classical ballet, pointe, men's classes, partnering, baroque and character dance, the Ohio Conservatory of Ballet is one of the most prestigious ballet schools in Ohio. Students from counties all throughout Northeast Ohio come to study under the direction of Inna Stabrova and Dmitriy Tuboltsev, graduates of the renowned State Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. (4858 S. Main Street, Akron 44319; 330.497.3288;

Verb Ballets (Cuyahoga County)
One of Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most respected contemporary dance companies, internationally acclaimed Verb Ballets has gained a reputation for artistic excellence since 1987. The contemporary ballet company performs at the Verb Ballets Center for Dance as well as at major venues throughout the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area, Cuba and Taiwan. Most recently, it established an innovative cultural exchange program with Havanna, Cuba, partnering with the Cuban dance company ProDanza to form the Cleveland Havana Ballet Project. (3558 Lee Road, Shaker Heights 44120; 216.397.3757;