Free dance day coming to Lawton

In this file photo Katie Barnett Veenhuizen takes a moment to pose with one of her students, Issabella Lisa, 10. Veenhuizen’s Lawton Ballet Theatre is hosting a free dance day Aug. 7.

Looking to cut loose next month?

Lawton Ballet Theatre is hosting a free dance day on Aug. 7 that will give residents a chance to bust a move.

What originally started as a way to bring in students to the burgeoning dance company has become an annual event that many look forward to.

“We have done this every year since we opened,” Katie Barnett Veenhuizen, the theatre’s Artistic Director, said. “It has always been a blast. I have people that look forward to it every year.”

The event consists of free dance and theatre classes designed to generate interest in the theatre’s offerings. It all takes place within a carnival-like atmosphere that includes bounce houses, face painting, carnival games, arts and crafts, food trucks and live performers.

And while Veenhuizen said there is “no obligation” to sign up for future classes, there are benefits for those who do.

“We are actually giving away free uniforms for anyone who signs up at our event. A leotard or dance dress for girls, the shirt and shorts uniform for boys or a water bottle if they’d rather. We want to make it as cost effective and easy to start their journey in the performing arts as we can if they decide taking class is right for them,” Veenhuizen said.

Classes are free but space is limited, so anyone interested will need to sign up ahead of time. Classes will include Pre-K ballet, tier I ballet and lyrical, tier II ballet, several theatre classes and a parent/child hip hop class that runs every 30 minutes that anyone can join without having to sign up.

“The parent child hip hop class will be set up Zumba style in our gym. We can accommodate lots of people in there, unlike the studios. So you don’t need to sign up for that,” Veenhuizen said. “Our instructor will be on a mic and teaching a short combination. You can just show up and hop in. She’ll be doing a variety of combos throughout the day and using our new curriculum Dancely, which is all originally written music and it’s really cool.”

Veenhuizen is hopeful that parents will bring their children out to free dance day to try something new.

“Maybe someone who never believed they could dance or act will come in and learn that they have a love for it. Whether they become a student/performer or not, now they have an appreciation. I want these next few generations to support the arts. That starts with trying new things,” Veenhuizen said.

As for her current students, Veenhuizen said they look forward to free dance day each year and are always hopeful that it will lead to new students enrolling in their classes.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is how welcoming my students are. Trust me, if you come to this event with your child they will walk out with some new buddies. Many of my current students attend free dance day even though they already take classes,” Veenhuizen said. “Come out, have fun, play games, win prizes, try out classes and meet our staff.”