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Osage Ballet to Perform during Pope Francis’ Visit

Photo by Jennifer Bettinger

Photo by Jennifer Bettinger

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 Europe, hidden during World War II, and then shipped to the Immaculate Conception Church in Pawhuska, where they remain today.

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 www.usccb.org, 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 www.worldmeeting2015.org, 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: www.worldmeeting2015.org.

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

To our loyal supporters: for travel to this event, the Osage Ballet will charter a bus for our cast of 11 plus parents, staff, tech crew and eight singers who will perform live for us. Hotel prices are high because of the magnitude of this international event.

Our budget is $39,860.00 for 37 participants. All participants are helping to raise funds but time is short.

Will you help us? We are a non-profit ballet and your donations are tax deductible.

Please click this link to donate: Go Fund Me/Osage Ballet

Thank you for helping us continue to be able to tell our Osage story!

Best Regards,
Randy Tinker Smith
Wahzhazhe Ballet Director