Jenna Smith on performing a ballet based on Osage cultural knowledge

During Native American Heritage Month we were invited to perform a part of our Osage ballet, Wahzhazhe, for two groups.  We travelled to Seminole College in Seminole, OK and to Red Rock, OK to perform for the entire elementary through high school system at Otoe Nation.

At Seminole College the President of the college happened to be there.  He said that when they have events in that theater, the college students are usually there for the grade and can be seen texting and not paying attention.  He was surprised that we had their complete attention!  We are honored to be able to define ourselves as Osage using ballet.

Many elders helped us to write the storyline so that we have an accurate account of some of the things our people went through.  For these performances we did a prayer scene, the boarding school scene and one that depicts the move to what is now our reservation.

Next, we went to the Otoe Nation and did the performance for their entire school system!  We could hear the teachers reminding the pre-K children to be still and pay attention before we began our performance, but once it started, they didn’t move a muscle or say a word!  They were in rapt attention, watching every detail.  I hope this experience not only inspires them to produce their own art, but gives them a picture of what some of their own history may have looked like.

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