Osage Tribal Museum & Wahzhazhe Ballet

Kathy SwainJ-C Correspondent

The Osage Tribal Museum was a key player in the development of the Wahzhazhe, the ballet that tells the history of the Osage people through dance.

“The ballet project actually came about when the Tribal Museum was asked to help with a special exhibit for the Historical Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. The 3,000 sq. ft. exhibit featured mound builders — the Caddo, Quapaw and Osage. This was the first time these three tribes pulled together to create the exhibit,” museum Director Kathryn Red Corn said.

Tribal Researcher Lou Brock was asked to put together some music for the exhibit. Already well known and respected for his musical talents, Brock’s music would create the ambiance for the exhibit’s demonstrations of pottery, finger weaving, etc. Brock not only created incredible music scores but his nine compositions were designed to reflect the Tribe’s history. He titled his collection, “The Journey.”

Randy Tinker Smith was also involved with the Little Rock project. Upon hearing the harmonious melodies of Brock’s compositions, she remarked, “Can’t you just see a ballet to this music?” After extensive research and hundreds of hours of consulting with Tribal elders, Smith’s idea became a reality. As part of the Tribal Museum’s diamond jubilee celebration, the historic Constantine Theater will host a premier showing of Smithsonian’s March filming of The Wahzhazhe at 7 p.m. Friday.