Robin Hood pranced through UF Health Shands Hospital on Friday in green spandex and velvet vest.
Underneath the costume, Andre Valladon, a principal dancer for the Gainesville-based Dance Alive National Ballet, was visiting the pediatric cancer unit with the rest of the troupe to promote an upcoming play and entertain the patients.
To the children he met during the visit, he was the real deal.
“It ended up being a life lesson for us,” the 44-year-old said. “It’s very rewarding for us to do something like that.”
Linda Rocha, the troupe’s director of development, said she wanted her dancers to visit the children after remembering her own experience 35 years ago, when her son was admitted to the hospital as a toddler.
A magician visited him, providing much-needed entertainment as she sat by his bed, Rocha said.
“It wasn’t much of anything. It wasn’t even that good of a magician,” the 64-year-old said. But it made getting through the day easier.
The troupe’s rendition of “Robin Hood” will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Carla Amancio, one of the troupe’s principal dancers, said it was her second time visiting the hospital with the cast. She likes going back and brightening a child’s day, even when the child might not be able to even leave his or her bed.
“It’s very good to see the happiness in their eyes,” she said. “I think we make a lot of difference in their life, on that day at least.”
Amancio said talking with the children made her grateful for her own life.
“They cannot dance, they cannot move,” she said. “I believe that we have to say thank you all the time for just the fact that we are alive.”
Rocha recalled her son’s time in the hospital decades ago as monotonous.
She was glad her dancers could bring a little joy like the magician did for her son, she said.
“Full circle is about the only way I can explain it,” she said.