Verb Ballets has commissioned The Adagio Reimagined Project in partnership with Jane Startzman featuring collaborating artists Neil Zaza and Sabatino Verlezza. The Adagio Reimagined Project will honor the legacy of Heinz Poll while presenting a bold new reinterpretation of the work featuring musical accompaniment by renowned instrumental rock guitarist, Zaza. The company will remount Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers with permission of Jane Startzman. The original work was created in 1973 to the music Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ. The ballet was danced in gold unitards and features striking sculptural poses with meticulous partnering giving the dancers a deity like quality.
The Adagio Reimagined Project was conceived as a unique way to commemorate the work of Heinz Poll and allow the work to be brought into the present with a modern interpretation. The idea came about when Festival Director, Jane Startzman heard Akron rock guitarist, Zaza performing a musical interpretation of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor at the Akron Civic Theatre. She found the reconstructed score breathtaking and was reminded of her time dancing Poll’s Adagio for Two Dancers. Startzman is the regisseur for the work and brought together Zaza and the Producing Artistic Director of Verb Ballets, Dr. Margaret Carlson, to the bring with work and music back to the stage.
Choreographer Sabatino Verlezza will create the new work to Neil Zaza’s rock score of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. Verlezza was a soloist with the May O’Donnell Dance Company and has danced with among many other prominent artists. With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury. Together these artists will reimagine the classic to demonstrate classical prowess with rock virtuosity. The Adagio Reimagined Project will be featured on the program at the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival on July 26 and 27, 2019.
Not only has guitarist Neil Zaza helped to define the genre of melodic instrumental guitar, he has become a worldwide ambassador for the instrument itself. His melodic compositions have changed the way musicians play, and what audiences worldwide demand out of their guitar heroes. With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Neil Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury. From his virtuoso rock solos, to laying a funk groove, to demonstrating his classical prowess by performing Bach and Mozart compositions, Zaza’s extreme versatility has been showcased worldwide in concerts, clinics, festivals, as well as on his own solo instrumental albums. Zaza has shared the bill with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Steve & Mike Porcaro (Toto), Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, and Andy Summers among countless others. He has performed on albums by Dweezil Zappa, Eric Carmen, Michael Stanley and also supplied guitar tracks for a Stewart Copeland-produced movie soundtrack.
It all began… in Akron, Ohio, where Neil Zaza was born, and still resides. Zaza started playing guitar at the age of 10 and went on to study classical guitar at The University of Akron under renowned educator and performer Stephen Aron. Zaza began to teach guitar, and in 1987 he formed the rock band Zaza, which quickly became one of the hottest U.S. touring bands at that time. After a successful run and even a hit song “Maybe Tomorrow”, the band disbanded, and a brilliant solo career began.
Sabatino Verlezza danced with the May O’Donnell Dance Company (soloist) and Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Sophie Maslow, Norman Walker, Glenn-Lund Dance, and Dances/Janet Soares, among other artists. He has choreographed for numerous companies/individuals including the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Joffrey II, Christopher Walken, Ben Vereen, and Billy Idol. He served as co-artistic director/choreographer of Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels, a company of professional dancers with and without disabilities. Since 1988, he has been Founder/Artistic Director of Verlezza Dance presenting his works nationally and internationally. Recently, Sabatino created a dance opera, ICARUS RISING with composer Elliot Sokolov, and co-choreographed Carmina Burana at Montclair State University. He currently performs with Verlezza Dance, Claire Porter/Portables, Meredith Fages and Heidi Lasky Dance. He is a certified Pilates Instructor and with Nancy Lushington and Barbara Allegra Verlezza is a Certifier of the May O’Donnell Dance Technique and Repertory. Sabatino is co-founder of ILLUMINATIONS Dance Company, an ensemble of multi-generational and nontraditional dancers based in St. Louis; and with certified dog trainer Suzanne Kalafian, 6 Hairy Legs, a dance-fitness platform for dogs and their human pets based in NC and OH. Sabatino is honored to work with Verb Ballets.