It’s a tale as old as any told, a dashing archer robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, the name Robin Hood holds a special place in literary canon.
The story has been told in books and on movie screens, and next month it will be told again through music and dance during Lawton Ballet Theatre’s spring recital of “Robin Hood.”
Each year, Katie Barnett Veenhuizen, the owner and artistic director of the theatre, comes up with a handful of ideas for the spring recital and lets the parents of her students vote on them. And for this year’s recital they chose Robin Hood.
The theatre has recently seen a boom in male dancers, so Veenhuizen wanted to design a story that could incorporate more male roles.
“I’m very excited because this is something different for us. And we wanted that, we wanted something different. We wanted something that had more guy characters in it with a lot of history to pull from,” Veenhuizen said.
The recital is a completely original work written and designed by Veenhuizen, who said she pulled from the story’s actual history for inspiration, as well as its mythology.
“There are a million retellings of Robin Hood, there are with any story, but this is not a fairy tale. This is a real story about a real person,” Veenhuizen said. “The show starts during the crusades with my highest-level ballet dancers. After that (Robin) comes back to England on a pirate ship and we go from there. It has been a lot of fun for the dancers to get to do these really athletic and different things.”
There will be two versions of the recital, a junior show featuring students from pre-k through age 8 and a senior show featuring students age 9 and up. The show will be held at McMahon Memorial Auditorium to allow for social distancing protocols. Additionally, the show will be livestreamed via Zoom.
“The virtual option is the coolest thing. When we did ‘The Nutcracker’ I had a dad email me who said that he was in the military and had never seen his daughter perform live because he has been deployed, but he stayed up all night and watched our livestream from Germany,” Veenhuizen said.
Livestreaming is one consequence of the pandemic that Veenhuizen does not foresee going away.
“I’ve had a lot of great responses from grandparents that live all across the country about being able to watch the recitals live,” Veenhuizen said.
One of her favorite aspects of any recital is costume design, and for Robin Hood, Veenhuizen chose to use “Romeo and Juliet” as inspiration for the classical ballet portions of the recital.
“There are a lot of tunics and empire-waisted dresses for the girls,” Veenhuizen said. “Getting a Juliet costume is actually incredibly expensive, like $400 or $500. I found a cheaper one, but it didn’t have the sleeves. Luckily I have a mom who is amazing, and she added sleeves to it so it looks like a $500 dress, but we kept it in budget.”
In addition to designing costumes, choreography and every other technical aspect of the recital, Veenhuizen also chooses the music her students will dance to.
“I try and think about how I can personify certain things. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 some odd classes and they all need something they can do,” Veenhuizen said. “I love taking, like, a 500-year-old song and putting it next to something that’s just a few years old, but somehow it still goes together, if that makes sense.”
While the theatre’s last recital was only open to parents, thanks to the relaxing of some COVID protocols, Veenhuizen said that grandparents, friends, teachers and others who wish to come will have the opportunity to attend the spring recital.
“More people will be able to come to this one, which is great. Of course, we are still being cautious and making good choices, but there will be extra tickets available,” Veenhuizen said.
Tickets for the junior and senior recitals are available at tututix.com