Oklahoma City Ballet opens its new season this weekend with the state premiere of choreographer Alan Hineline's adaptation of Washington Irving's classic short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
In a year that has also included an adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz," company artistic director Robert Mills hopes the Halloween favorite will strike a balance between movement and narrative pieces, with a focus on creating or presenting ballets adapted from more contemporary tales.
"The art of classical ballet has been showcased within grand story ballets for centuries," he said. "I want to not only perform the 'La Sylphides' and the 'Sleeping Beauties,' but also create or present new full-length works that will capture people's imaginations and bring the art of ballet new fans."
"Sleepy Hollow" takes places in a picturesque, colonial New York village at the end of the 18th century. It follows the misadventures of the meek and superstitious schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. He pines for the affections of young Katrina Van Tassel, but things take a terrifying turn when Crane is chased through the fog-shrouded forest by the a Headless Horseman.
The audience is left to decide if the Horseman was in fact a ghostly specter or Van Tassel's rival suitor, Brom, trying to frighten Crane away.
"Although it has its share of spooky moments, the ballet is also very lighthearted and romantic. Behind the dark elements, there is a love triangle and a romance between Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel," Mills said. "The show is absolutely a family-oriented ballet."
"Sleepy Hollow" is the first full-length ballet the company has produced with an outside choreographer in more than 20 years. Alan Hineline's adaptation was originally produced for the Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania and has since been performed around the county before its Oklahoma City run.
"Alan Hineline is a gifted choreographer, and our talented and impassioned company of dancers will bring this beautiful and frightening classic to life on the stage in an extraordinary production," Mills said. "Alan uses movement and dance very intelligently to tell the story without long moments of pantomime and dull action."
The score for "Sleepy Hollow" was created especially for this production by Emmy-winning musical director and composer Lanny Meyers ("Remember WENN"), and will be performed live by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of philharmonic conductor Joel Levine.
Mills said "Sleepy Hollow" strikes a balance for serious ballet lovers and audiences eager just for entertainment and a good story.
"People will leave the theater humming the music," he said.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow stages at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday presented by the Oklahoma City Ballet at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker.