The artistic vision and commitment of Osage Ballet is being honored this spring with an invitation to perform “Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet” on an outdoor stage June 15 in Chase County, Kansas.


The performance will be an element of a large annual fundraiser organized by a Kansas nonprofit called Symphony in the Flint Hills, Inc.


Randy Tinker Smith, director of Osage Ballet, said the invitation to perform is a really big deal for Osage Ballet. The invitation was initially unlikely because the Symphony in the Flint Hills spring event is usually booked up well in advance, but the organization’s 15-member board decided to add Osage Ballet to what their organization is doing this year.


“They’re building us a stage,” Smith said.


Symphony in the Flint Hills’ annual Signature Event features visual art, dialogue and music in an ongoing attempt to showcase the heritage and beauty of the region. The event draws some 7,000 people.


“It’s an all-day event and one that is well respected,” Smith said. “This gives us an opportunity to define ourselves and tell our own story.”


Smith said “Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet” is based on extensive consultations with tribal elders about appropriate content. The performance this spring in Kansas also will benefit from a growing relationship between Osage Ballet and the Oklahoma City Ballet.


Ronnie Underwood, principal dancer and ballet master for the Oklahoma City Ballet, will be artistic director for Osage Ballet’s performance.


“We’ve built a really good relationship with them,” Smith said. A dozen professional dancers are to make the trip to Kansas. Smith thanked the Osage Nation Foundation for its financial support of the upcoming performance.


Smith said the ballet has become an important part of Osage tribal culture, in no small part because of the artistic excellence and achievements of Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. There would be no Osage Ballet or Dance Maker Academy (the Pawhuska-based school that is training young Osage ballet dancers) without the Tallchiefs, Smith said.


Smith also said that Pawhuska Public Schools have agreed to make ballet an elective option for students and to transport students for ballet lessons. She encouraged Pawhuska school children, particularly boys, to take ballet.


“I hope that every male athlete in the school comes over and takes ballet. It’ll be good for their careers,” Smith said.


For ticket information about the June 15 performance in Kansas, visit the website of Symphony in the Flint Hills and look for details about the organization’s Signature Event.