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Oklahoma City ballet performers teach youth at Dance Maker Academy summer camp

Osage-owned Dance Maker Academy hosted two Oklahoma City-based ballet instructors to teach at its summer 2018 youth camps in Pawhuska.

Walker Martin and Miki Kawamura visited the academy and taught three days during the summer camp. Both dance instructors are previous performers featured in the 2016 performances of Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet said ballet director Randy Tinker Smith. Martin and Kawamura are now performers with the Oklahoma City Ballet.

“This is our fifth year at Dance Maker Academy,” Smith said. “We have laid a good foundation in the basics and this year we are really going to help (the students) stretch and reach higher in their dance discipline. Bringing Miki and Walker in showed the students firsthand what they could aspire to. The classes were tough, but our students put their hearts into doing the work. Having art in their lives will raise them to a higher level socially, emotionally, as well as analytical thinking skills.”

Smith said: “We had 22 students in our first ever, two-week Drama Camp, 47 students ages 3-8 during 2 weeks of Dance Camp, and finally, 29 students for a Ballet Intensive. The Osage Foundation paid scholarships for all of our students and the Oklahoma Arts Council helped pay our professional dancers to do the three-day Ballet Intensive.”

The Dance Maker Academy camp opportunity is one of three camps presented by the Osage Nation’s Foundation this year. The Foundation also provided funding for a digital photography camp taught by Bartlesville photographer Sherry Stinson and a youth golf camp in Bartlesville hosted by Osage golfer and PGA Professional, Leslie Core-Drevecky.

For the Dance Maker Academy camp, Foundation Executive Director Bill Webb said the Foundation provided about $4,900 to pay for the camp students.   

As for the Academy’s presence in Osage County, Smith said: “It is constantly on our minds that we could be training a Marjorie or Maria Tallchief for our generation. We are serious about getting the best training for our children, so they may have every opportunity to excel in ballet. We are thankful to have so many boys who are in ballet classes. This raises the level of our training. (Smith’s daughter and dance instructor) Jenna (Rae Smith) was trained in top schools in Atlanta and did not get to do any partnering until she was in high school because there were very few male dancers. This training will have a lasting impact as they mature and move into the next seasons of their lives. Jenna continues to teach at our Osage Immersion school once a week. It is wonderful to be able to have a ballet school where we recognize and honor our Osage ways.”

For 2019, Smith said there are two performances planned for Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet on July 19 in Branson, Mo., at the Andy Williams Theatre.

For more information on Dance Maker Academy and its class offerings, visit its Facebook page or visit the school at 400 Palmer Ave. in Pawhuska or call (918) 704-4668. 

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