Community

Ballet coming back to Osage County

An Osage mother and daughter team are opening a ballet studio in Pawhuska this spring.

Jenna Smith, 27, and her mother, Randy Tinker Smith, who both created, “Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet,” are opening the Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy on April 14. The academy will be located in the old Senior Citizens building behind the Pawhuska Police Station at 200 Palmer Ave.

“Ballet has been beneficial to my life by teaching discipline, work ethic and also helped me be more organized and structured,” Jenna said.

Jenna will be the lone instructor for the time being and her mother will be the academy’s director. Electa RedCorn will also teach stretching and stress management in the academy, said Randy Tinker Smith. The academy hopes to have two dance instructors by summer and hopes Pilates and Yoga will be added soon.

There will be an annual Registration fee of $25 per student, or $40 per family. Tuition for the academy will range from $50 to $100 a month, parents will pay both an annual fee and tuition, depending on age and how many times a week the students attend class, said Randy Tinker Smith. Dance Maker Academy is a nonprofit organization and fees will help cover rent, utilities, teacher costs and help buy supplies such as floors, bars, mirrors and costumes. There weren’t enough students in the area to function without the help of a nonprofit status, said Randy Tinker Smith.

Scholarship opportunities exist. A child can raise money through donations and reach a $600 goal, which will be turned over to the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. Money marked for the child’s scholarship will cover one dance class per week and a week of dance camp during the summer, said Randy Tinker Smith. The student will be required to write a short letter to the sponsors to tell of their progress each month. The letters will be given to Randy Smith to be emailed to the proper sponsor. Younger students will have help writing their letters, said Randy Tinker Smith.

Jenna Smith is from the Wa-Ka-Ko-Li’n District and participates in the In-Lon-Schka dances every June. She has been dancing since she was three years old. She graduated in 2011 from Oral Roberts University with a Bachelors of Science in Dance Performance. Jenna choreographed the ballet, “Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet,” which premiered in Tulsa and Bartlesville and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Jenna was also a recipient of the Osage Nation scholarship fund.

The goal for the academy is to be part of the community and to give children a place to learn ballet and other arts, said Randy Tinker Smith. Other arts the mother and daughter team hope to incorporate includes jazz, modern dance, musical theater, drama, painting and designing costumes. The main goal for the academy is to teach students to a professional level of dance, in hopes of being able to have their own dance company made of Osage performers.

“Choosing Pawhuska, we are in hopes of getting a high rate of male dancers, which could put us on the map,” said Randy Tinker Smith. “Male ballet dancers are hard to come by and we are excited to see extraordinary things from these young Osage kids.”

Jenna Smith said by opening her dance academy in Pawhuska is a way to give back and help the youth of her tribe to strive to be professional dancers. With her connections in the ballet world she will be able to help the students network and find dance camps and jobs after they graduate, she said.

Recitals will most likely be held at the Constantine Theater in Pawhuska, said Randy Tinker Smith. When asked if the kids would learn the choreography to “Wahzahzhe: An Osage ballet,” Jenna Smithsaid it could be a possibility.

“Parental Involvement is vital! We also want participation from grandparents, aunts, uncles, we want this to be very community involved,” Randy Smith said.

The studio will have an administration office, a boy’s dressing room, a girl’s dressing room, lobby, large dance studio for older students and a small dance room for the younger students, a costume room/activities room and a kitchen, as well as a meeting room.

Registration and a meet and greet with Jenna and Randy will be from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on April 6.

To make a donation, mail a check to the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, 101 E. Archer St., Tulsa, OK 74103.

For more information please contact Jenna or Randy Smith atosageballet@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page, Osage Ballet.

[Editor's Note: This story was updated for clarification on April 2.]