Jenna Smith (Osage, Cherokee) is a 2011 graduate of Oral Roberts University, with a Bachelors of Science in Dance Performance. Jenna began dancing when she was three, and began pre-professional ballet training in the 6th grade with Pavel Rotaru. During her senior year of high school she studied with Prima Ballerina, Maniya Barredo, in Alpharetta, GA. She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts her freshman year of college. She was one of only eight accepted into the college ballet program that year from auditions done across the United States. In 2006, she moved to Oklahoma with her family, continuing her college education at Tulsa Community College, and training at the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education. She received an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from TCC in 2008, before participating in the Disney College Program, in Orlando, FL for a semester. In the fall of 2009, she went to Oral Roberts University, where she received her degree, in 2011. In 2012, Jenna choreographed Wahzhazhe: An Osage Ballet, which premiered in August in Tulsa and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The ballet was then invited to perform at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the Native American in Washington, DC, in March of 2013. It was then performed in Tulsa and Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in August 2013.
By: Jenna Rae Smith
I am Osage. We don’t talk about it very much, but I think dance is a part of our souls. The way we communicate to our Creator, the way we capture passion in our bodies to tell our stories. When I began the choreography on our Osage ballet, Wahzhazhe, I knew I wanted to tell the story well, so that everyone watching could see what it looks like to be Osage. Being brought up in the discipline of ballet has given me the opportunity to express myself without words. I love the precision of it and am most attracted to the Vaganova style of ballet because of its disciplined precision. Symmetry in dance and motion is profoundly beautiful and I love watching all different styles of dance. I recognize the time that was involved in learning our craft, and the passion that keeps us learning and growing. The artists who have influenced me the most were actually two of my dance teachers. One taught me to believe in myself and told me I could dance if I wanted to and the other taught me how to visualize a story and put it on a body. My wish is that I will be able to give back, that I will have the opportunity to inspire a child, either by teaching or by example.