First published 1994.
From the blurb on the inside cover of this book:
On the planet Bountiful, under a harsh, harsh sun, human settlers live peacefully alongside aliens known as Dancers for their magical rituals. The colony children, in particular, are fascinated by their alien friends.
But to human eyes, one Dancer ritual of growth and maturation is alien almost beyond comprehension. The Dancers' biology demands dismemberment before the adult can emerge from the adolescent. The children, enthralled by the Dancers' charismatic and beautiful magic, think this is a way in which they too can grow up quickly. They start to imitate. The result, tragic, catastrophic, causes upheaval that reaches across worlds and time...
This is but the start of Alien Influences.
I enjoyed this book very much. The paragraphs above do indeed describe a very small part of this novel. Whole societies, both human and alien, are created, and their interactions explored.
The events raise many questions, such as Why do the children want to grow up so quickly? What effect are the Dancers really having on those they come into contact with? Eventually some of these questions are answered, though not all. The impression given is of a vast, well-established Universe, with haziness around the edges - after all, nobody can know everything.
All the characters are given fully-fledged personalities, except perhaps those who shouldn't have them. People act in realistically human ways, and the aliens act in plausibly alien ways. In summary, suspension of disbelief is not only possible, but thoroughly enjoyable.31 March 1998
See also the writeup of Alien Influences on Rusch's own homepage.