|NATION:||Sac & Fox|
Donna began her stage career as Roberta Van Renselaar in The Night of January 16th her senior class play in a transformation so complete that the school principal was heard to exclaim loudly from the back of the auditorium, "Who in the hell is that?"
At age seventeen she talked the owner of the local dance studio into letting her clean the studio in exchange for ballet lessons, lost twenty pounds and wrote a letter to Stuart Udall's mother, Lee for a plane ticket to audition in New York. Donna won a full dance scholarship to the Harkness Ballet and performed with the Jr. Company. She was offered a scholarship in Modern Dance to the North Carolina School of the Arts and worked briefly with the Raleigh Civic Ballet Company. Donna returned to New York and auditioned for "The Three Caballeros" unit of Disney on Parade. Noted for her ability to defy gravity with split jumps she toured the U. S. and Canada as the principal dancer "Peter Pan".
She won another scholarship to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the Village where she studied for a year and then began to study with Austin Pendleton and Bill Hickey at the HB studio. Ray Evans Harrell of Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble generously supported her vocal aspirations, though opera was not in the cards! She studied acting informally at the American Indian Community House with Hanay Geiogamah, Maria Antoinette Rogers and Jane Lind of the Native American Theatre Ensemble, and began acting with Hanay Geiogamah's NAIA Company and Spiderwoman Theatre. Donna began to work as an actress Off Off Broadway in Antony and Cleopatra, 49 at La Mama Etc. and Rosalyn Drexler's the Tree Artist at Theatre for the New City where they needed a Native American actress who could sing, dance act and rollerskate! Another favorite role was that of Lady McDuff in McBeth or, "the Scottish Play meets the road warrior" for the London Shakespeare Company. Heavily tatooed with her infant strapped to her back she fought off the would be murderers with swordplay and stage combat only to be defeated by the green smoke of the witches! Donna was lucky with publicity in newspapers and magazines which led to a brief modeling career. She audited a class with Stella Adler and returned to acting.Donna was at Yale Rep Winterfest in the Rez Sisters where her performance of Marie Adele Starblanket earned praise from Lloyd Richards. She starred opposite Randolph Mantooth in Foot prints in Blood at the Old Lady of Brady Theatre in Tulsa Oklahoma.
Donna briefly worked in Los Angeles in television and returned to work at Joe Papp's Public Theatre in Inktomi. She toured Europe as a singer with Broadway Melody 1492. Donna returned to the U.S. where she founded Leaf Arrow Theatre with her husband Joe, and directed Harvest Ceremony-Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth for the Smithsonian in NY. which was noticed by the BBC and the New York Times.
The Leaf Arrow Storytellers and Dancers were recently invited as two of fourteen storytellers in the Western Hemisphere for the historic Mall opening of the NMAI Smithsonian in Washington, DC. this past September. They have been part of Lincoln Center's Meet the Artist Program for several seasons and worked in many of the major museums in the U.S. Donna and her husband have also produced a short video of their early work at the Heye Foundation called Leaf Arrow Storytellers Live on Broadway and 155th St!. Onward and upward everybody!