Nutcracker Ballet coming to Pawhuska this Christmas Season

By: Roseanne McKee

The Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy will host an elegant evening of hor d’oeuvres and dessert at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21, at the Elks Lodge in Pawhuska to preview plans to produce the Nutcracker Ballet at Pawhuska’s Constantine Theatre on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. For reservations to the catered event, at no charge, call 918-607-3044. After-five attire is requested.

“The evening will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the Academy and its partnership with the Osage Ballet to train the next generation of dancers in the tradition of the late Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina, an Osage member, who was born in nearby Farifax, Okla.,” said Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith.

The evening will include a short presentation by award-winning journalist, author and former manager of the Tulsa Ballet Theater, Connie Cronley. Catering will be provided by highly-esteemed chef, Brian Lookout of Ah Tha Tse Catering.

Although the evening is at no cost, attendees are encouraged to make their best donations to help support the Nutcracker Ballet production by Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy at the evening’s conclusion.

Another opportunity to support the Academy will be attendance at the Nutcracker Tea Party to be held Dec. 3 at the Short Community Center in Pawhuska from 2 – 4 p.m. This is a ticketed event costing $10 each. For reservations to this elegant afternoon of high tea and an opportunity for photos with the Nutcracker characters, call 918-607-3044. Tea sandwiches, a selection of teas and sweet treats will be served. “This is a wonderful event for the children your family,” said Dance Maker Academy Director, Jenna Smith.

The community may also support the upcoming Nutcracker performance by shopping at the Nutcracker Boutique at the Old Firehouse #1 Art Center on Main St. in Pawhuska. The gift boutique will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon. – Sat. Nov. 1 – Dec. 23.

Tickets for the Nutcracker Ballet at the Constantine Dec. 9, will be $8 for students and $15 for adults.

“We thank our sponsors, Osage Casinos, Pawhuska Community Foundation, Osage Foundation, Blue Sky Bank, Jerry and Marlene Mosley, for helping us to continue the legacy of ballet in the Osage, and look forward to others joining our efforts,” Smith said.

On the eve of their Departure for Santa Fe, Osage Ballet Principal Dancers Gather at The Mabelle B&B in Pawhuska

(L-R) Richard Walters (seated), OKC Ballet, Zoe Marnello-Kohn, San Fransisco Ballet (seated), Milena Garcia, OKC Ballet, Walter Gutierrez, Miki Kawamura, OKC Ballet (seated), Kayla Banks, Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith, Katherine Boatwright, Ballet Nebraska, Toleu Mukanov (seated), Walter Martin and Randy Crespo.

(L-R) Richard Walters (seated), OKC Ballet, Zoe Marnello-Kohn, San Fransisco Ballet (seated), Milena Garcia, OKC Ballet, Walter Gutierrez, Miki Kawamura, OKC Ballet (seated), Kayla Banks, Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith, Katherine Boatwright, Ballet Nebraska, Toleu Mukanov (seated), Walter Martin and Randy Crespo.

Photos and Article by: Roseanne McKee

On Aug. 2, the evening before departing for Santa Fe for their Aug. 6 performances at the Lensic Performing Arts Center via tour bus, Osage Ballet Director, Randy Tinker Smith, and her lead ballet dancers gathered at Cathy Ross’s home for dinner and a chance to meet some members of the community.

Debbie Reed, Pawhuska City Councilman Steve Holcombe, his wife Susie Holcombe, Osage Tribal Museum Curator Hallie Winter and Emily Haran were among those who attended.

(L-R) Susie Holcombe, Osage Ballet dancer Walter Gutierrez, Cathy Ross, owner of The Mabelle B&B, Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, Debbie Reed, Emily Holcombe, tap instructor at Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy.

(L-R) Susie Holcombe, Osage Ballet dancer Walter Gutierrez, hostess Cathy Ross, Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, Debbie Reed, Emily Haran, tap instructor at Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy.

When Director Randy Tinker Smith approached Cathy Ross with the idea of hosting a dinner for the Osage Ballet professional dancers, Ross answered with a resounding, “yes!”

Ross, who owns a bed and breakfast in Pawhuska called The Mabelle, said, “I’m a promoter of the arts and tourism and I entertain a lot here.” Ross is also a member of Preserving Arts in the Osage.

The evening provided an opportunity to hear from the dancers their emotional reactions to being a part of Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, which tells the story of the Osage people through ballet. “Wahzhazhe” is the pronunciation of the word for the Osage people in their language.

Stage Manager Kayla Banks shared that during a run-through earlier that day, “I was crying today during the scene ‘Walking in Two Worlds,’ where the kids and the professionals dance together. That’s my favorite scene, because it reminds me of my younger self. I think people can relate to it regardless of if you’re Osage. I think people can relate to it looking back at their own heritage.”

Banks, who lives in Denver Colo., is a performing artist trained in ballet, modern dance and stage work. She is dating ballet choreographer Jenna Smith’s cousin and on their first date he mentioned the Osage Ballet. Later, he sent her a YouTube clip of the ballet dancing.

Banks described her reaction: “This is so cool! I’m Native American. I’m Comanche; my family lives down in Lawton, Okla., — that’s where our reservation and National Museum are. I had just learned about Maria Tallchief. You don’t hear about Native American ballerinas because ballet started in Europe. I’m also African American, so what Misty Copeland, an African American ballet dancer, is doing at ABT (American Ballet Theatre) is inspiring and what Maria Tallchief did. You realize that ballet’s not just for one skin color. It’s really universal – it’s everybody’s.

“Once I saw the ballet, the first thing I did was to send the clip to the Native American Cultural Center at Colorado State University and suggested that they place it in their archives and spread the word about the Osage Ballet.”

“Then we went to the family reunion in New Mexico and that’s where I met Randy,” Banks said. After learning of her stage management background, Smith, who needed a stage manager, asked Banks to fill that important position. She accepted and even recruited a friend of hers, Andrew McIntyre, to be on the lighting crew. “He’s already in Santa Fe, waiting for us,” she said.

Regarding her own dance career, Banks said, she is still in training, but she hopes to dance in the Osage Ballet one day herself.

Referring to Osage Ballet Choreographer Jenna Smith’s Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy in Pawhuska, Banks said, the school’s goal is to raise dancers to perform the ballet.

“I hope this will be a staple piece like the Nutcracker with other artistic pieces to follow,” Banks added.

“There have been so many ballets created but Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, can be a staple because you bring it to communities that really appreciate it. Knowledge of it will continue to spread throughout the United States and the world. It will have a name for sure.”

Lead dancer Miki Kawamura, originally from Sapporo in the northern region of Japan shared how she became involved in the Osage Ballet. She danced for the Osage Ballet in Santa Fe with permission from the Oklahoma City Ballet.

“My best friend was going to do the ballet, and so I decided to join her for the opportunity to stay in shape over the summer and travel to Santa Fe; but then when it got closer to the time of rehearsal, my best friend decided she couldn’t do it. At that point, I’d already signed the contract….If I say I will do it, I will do it.”

Soon a DVD of the ballet arrived and Kawamura began learning the choreography, but at that point, she still did not fully grasp the emotional impact of her participation in the ballet.

“Then I came here and I met them, and saw how proud they are about the tribe and the ballet. Before I came here I had no idea. The tribe and the city have a lot of feelings toward this ballet. I’m really honored to be here.

“How many Japanese get to do this? I’m sure I’m the only one getting to do Native American ballet, so I’m glad I said yes.

“I’m glad I prepared and learned the ballet before I came. It’s not just a job or a gig. I want to give more….I want to express what it means to them.”

Describing the significance of her participation in the Osage Ballet, she said, “God moves people for His purposes. It shows me He is with me. He shows me why things happen.”

According to Director, Randy Smith, the Santa Fe performances on Aug. 6 at the Lensic PAC went well and were well attended.

Smith said: “We hope this will be the first of many trips to New Mexico and other regions to share Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet with a wider audience.”

To learn of upcoming performances of the Osage Ballet, visit their website at http://www.osageballet,com and visit their Facebook page.

The Osage Ballet operates under Art Maker. Donations may be sent to P. O. Box 1141, Skiatook, OK 74070.

Osage Ballet Performs at Festival of Families

The Osage Ballet performed at the Festival of Families on Saturday evening around 7 p.m. at Logan Square. Pope Francis arrived at Logan Square at approximately the same time as the Osage Ballet’s performance.
According to Randy Tinker Smith, the Osage Ballet Director, the Pope appeared at Logan Circle Square approximately five minutes before the Osage Ballet began.

“Osages were setting their chairs around the drum as he rounded the corner. They were all on stage as the popemobile passed by the stage,” Smith said.

Smith said: “Osage staff recorded the Pope as he passed. As he traveled on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, around Logan Square, the audience members ran across the grassy hill to wave and catch a second glimpse. About one minute later, the Osage Ballet began their performance. As the audience members heard the drum start, they migrated quickly back to the stage with excitement. Some members even exclaimed ‘I hear a drum beating!’”

Smith said, “I felt that the timing of the Pope’s arrival just prior to the performance of the Osage Ballet, graced the Osages, blessing them as they went into performance of their opening scene praying to Wakonda (Creator).”

She described the scene: “We were on a lit stage above the crowd and we waved to the Pope,” Smith said.

“Pope Francis gave us a return wave and it was a very exciting moment. We then began the ‘Prayer’ scene from our ballet. With the first beat of our drum, a huge crowd of people left the road where they had lined up to see His Holiness, and began running to our stage. It was an amazing moment to experience on a global stage. Our performers were magnificent!”

Soon, the Pope took his place on the main stage.

“We were close enough to record his arrival. We were honored to be allowed this close access to the Pope and to be among the Festival of Families performers during the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia,” Smith added.

Smith hopes to share photos, and possibly video, when she returns to Oklahoma this week.

The dancers performed the prayer scene from Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, accompanied by the drum and nine Osage singers. The group, traveling by charter bus, will begin their return trip Sun., Sept. 27, with plans to arrive in Pawhuska, Okla., Mon. evening, Sept. 28.

Visit the Osage Ballet Facebook page for photos from the performance and visit to Philadelphia.

Osage Ballet to Perform during Papal visit to Philadelphia

Osage Ballet Performs a scene from Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet

Osage Ballet Performs a scene from Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet

By: McKee PR Advertising & Design for the Osage Ballet

The prayer scene from Wahzhazhe an Osage Ballet, which tells the history of the Osage people through ballet, will be performed at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia at the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 at Logan Square in Philadelphia, PA, to be attended by Pope Francis.

The Osage people have a long history with the Catholic Church first documented in 1673 when the Osages met Father Jacques Marquette, who visited them on the Osage River and visited several Osage villages, said Osage Ballet Director, Randy Tinker Smith. This interaction was followed by the arrival in America of Jesuit Priests, called “black robes” by the Osages, who evangelized to and converted some Osages to Catholicism.

In fact, Pawhuska, Okla., where the Osage Nation is headquartered, has the only Catholic Church in the world with stained glass windows depicting these Jesuit Priests meeting the Osage people and evangelizing to them. Osage families commissioned the stained glass windows to be made, which were created in Germany, hidden during World War I, and then shipped to the Immaculate Conception Church in Pawhuska, where they remain today, according to Parish Priest Father Sean Donovan. These stained glass windows, depicting Osages, required permission of the Pope.

Describing her decision to create and privately raise funds to produce the Osage Ballet, Smith said, “I sought to continue the legacy of two Osage women: the late Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief, and her sister, Marjorie Tallchief. Following the path paved by them, by telling the story of the Osage people through ballet seemed natural.”

We are honored that Roman Jasinski, the son of Moscelyne Larkin, an accomplished Native American ballerina, of the Peoria and Shawnee tribes, will be one of the dancers to perform,” Smith said.

Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, was first performed in Tulsa and Bartlesville, Okla. in Aug. 2012, to enthusiastic audiences. Because of the outstanding response to the Ballet, they were invited and performed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. in March 2013.

According to their website, the World Meeting of Families event will be held in Philadelphia from September 22 to 27 and Pope Francis will attend Sept. 26 and 27 with the following scheduled stops on Sept. 26: 10:30 a.m. — Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, located in Logan Square, in Philadelphia, 4:45 p.m. – a visit to Independence Mall, 7:30 p.m. — a visit to the Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The World Meeting of Families website, states that the event was begun by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1992 for the purpose of “strengthening the sacred bonds of the family unit across the globe.”

The event, which takes place every three years, creates an opportunity for families from all over the world to gather, and share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers. The purpose is to foster “working together to grow as individuals and family units,” the website says. Furthermore, “families can participate in discussion groups on the Christian family’s role in the church and society, led by many distinguished speakers.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Festival of Families, visit their website at:

For information about the Osage Ballet’s performance at the festival, visit their website or follow the Osage Ballet on Facebook.

Osage Ballet to hold July performances in Skiatook and Miami


(L-R) Sean Steigerwald, Arthur Rocha, Sasha Kotelenets and Chad Jones. Photo by: Bill Riley

By: Roseanne McKee

“Wahzhazhe” an Osage Ballet will again grace the Oklahoma stage. The Osage Ballet will hold six July performances of “Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet,” at two Oklahoma venues — Miami and Skiatook.

Three performances will be held at the Skiatook High School: July 18, 19, at 7:30 p.m. and July, 20, at 2:30 p.m. at 1000 W. 4th St., Skiatook, Okla.

In addition, there will be three performances at the historic Coleman Theater in Miami, July 25, 26, at 7:30 p.m. and July 27, at 2:30 p.m. at 103 N. Main St., Miami, Okla.

The director, Randy Tinker Smith, made the decision to hold these summer performances following the warm reception by audiences in 2013 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Bartlesville Community Center and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Smith said that the ballet “Wahzhazhe” tells the story of the Osage people from their first encounters with European visitors to the present day. Called the “Masters of the Battlefield” and sometimes referred to as the happiest people in the world, the Osage people monopolized trade because of their organization and order. Highlights of “Wahzhazhe” include: the Osage’s journey to Oklahoma territory, their wealth through the discovery of oil in the minerals estate, and the manner in which they now walk in two worlds.

The Osage Ballet operates under the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, 101 E. Archer St., Tulsa, OK 74013, as a non-profit organization.

“We appreciate donations from the Osage Nation Foundation, Iron Hawk Energy Group and other area oil businesses,” Smith said. “These donations help us continue to bring the story of the Osage people to the Oklahoma stage.”

Tickets are available at to door for $10 for children and seniors and $12 for adults.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact the Osage Ballet at 918-704-4668 or via e-mail at

Donations to the Osage Ballet may be mailed to: the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa at 101 E. Archer St., Tulsa, OK 74103.

Visit the Osage Ballet Facebook and the website at: for photos and updates.

Osage Ballet holds Art Auction and Fashion Show

(L-R) Madeline Pennington, Emily Pennington and Jenna Smith model designs by Wendy Ponca and Terry Wann inspired by Native American clothing.Image

By: Roseanne McKee

The Osage Ballet held an art auction and fashion show on April 25 at the Harwelden Mansion in Tulsa.

Native-American fashions by designers Wendy Ponca and Terry Wann were inspired by the Osage creation story, which tells of sky people, called Tzi-Zho, coming to earth from the sky and marrying the earth people called Hun-kah.

“Two of the models represented the sky people and one the earth people,” Ponca explained. “The earth model is clothed in buckskin, otter skin, copper and shells just as those found at the Cahokia Mounds.”

The sky models were dressed in Mylar® with crystal necklaces and Eagle headdresses, Wann said. According to Wann, she chose to use Mylar® because a similar substance was found at the UFO crash site in Roswell, NM.

“It’s my interpretation as an artist,” Wann said.

Models Madeline and Emily Pennington hail from the GrayHorse Village near Fairfax and Jenna Smith is from the Pawhuska Village.

Following remarks by Osage Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, Native-American art was auctioned to benefit the Osage Ballet. “It’s very expensive for us to continue this,” Smith said, explaining her desire to continue to offer opportunities for audiences to see Wah-Zha-Zhe an Osage Ballet telling the history of the Osage people.

The proceeds of the evening will go toward summer performances of Wah-Zha-Zhe in Skiatook and at the Coleman Theater in Miami, Okla.

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