Arts Midwest World Fest

Tarim residency brings the ancient sounds of the Silk Road to the Black Hills

Tarim Uygur Song and Dance brings to the United States its ancient songs of the Silk Road, the melodies of the Uygurs, the Kazaks, the Kirkiz; the rhythms of the Hui, the Uzbek, and Tatars. Tarim will conclude a weeklong Arts Midwest World Fest residency presented by the Hill City Arts Council with a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in the Hill City High School Auditorium.

In addition to the concluding concert – tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for students and free from children under age 6 – free events open the public will be a community workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 6, in the Lead-Deadwood High School Theater in Lead; and informal reception and bronze pour at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Black Hills Bronze in Hill City; workshops at 8:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. in the Hill City Hill School Auditorium; and workshops in the Custer Schools on Thursday, May 9 – 9:30 a.m. in the Hermosa School gym, and 1:15 & 2:30 p.m. in the Custer High School Theater.

Tickets for the concluding concert are available in advance by credit card – call 605-574-3200 or stop by Black Hills Bronze during business hours – and at several businesses in Hill City. If there are any remaining tickets, they will be available at the door (the three previous World Fest Concerts have sold out). The Tarim residency follows enthusiastically received visits by ensembles from Egypt, Israel, and Bali, through the Arts Midwest World Fest program.

tarim for hill city

As you listen to Tarim, close your eyes—the sounds will take you to the spice markets, deserts, and vineyards of western China, a land of vast contrast, scale, and history. Experience Tarim Uygur Song and Dance, a 19-member ensemble of musicians and dancers from the Cultural Bureau of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Western China. Members of the ensemble have earned more than twenty national and international awards for their skill and beauty. The ensemble not only wishes to preserve the ancient Uygur cultural heritage, but also works to add to it by collecting forgotten melodies and songs, and by creating new work built on the old traditions. The members look forward to their first visit to the Midwestern United States.

"It’s a rare for small and mid-size midwestern communities to host such fascinating ensembles from around the world," says Hills City Arts Council President Kristin Donnan Standard. "The culture Tarim Uygur Song and Dance shares will share with our community will be an exciting change from what we typically hear in the Midwest, and even a contrast with the other three emsembles we have hosted. The ensemble will be in the Black Hills for a full week and we expect this residency will be another delightful experience for our entire community." According to Standard, small towns in the Hills typically do not regularly have the resources to host week-long residencies by international ensembles like Tarim Uygur Song and Dance. Arts Midwest, a regional arts organization based in Minneapolis, offsets much of the cost and handles the coordination of Arts Midwest World Fest tours in order to offer communities throughout the Midwest this rich international arts experience. Hill City (population less than 1,000) was selected as one of only nine midwestern cities to host the 2011-13 Arts Midwest World Fest and is the only partner community chosen in South Dakota.

"Our goal is to make lasting impressions in the communities that host Arts Midwest World Fest," says David Fraher, executive director of Arts Midwest. "Our musicians do not simply perform one evening and leave. Rather, they conduct extensive residencies, where they perform in schools and in a variety of community venues. They conduct dozens of workshops about their culture, music and language. We want this to be a rich experience for the full community."

Tarim Uygur Song and Dance is the last of four ensembles to visit Hill City over the course of this two-year partnership with Arts Midwest. Arts Midwest World Fest presents international music ensembles in the nine-state region it serves with the goal of connecting small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures through week-long residencies with global performers. As its organization-wide mission, Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives.

A program of Arts Midwest, the 2011-13 Arts Midwest World Fest cycle is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the 3M Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China in support of Tarim Uygur Song and Dance, and the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest in support of Yamma Ensemble. This activity is also funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.

Arts Midwest World Fest is also generously supported by Illinois Arts Council, Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Minnesota State Arts Board, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, South Dakota Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board.

Black Hills sponsors of the Tarim residency, presented by the Hill City Arts Council, include the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, Pine Rest Cabins, the Deadwood-Lead Arts Council, Historic Deadwood, the South Dakota Arts Council, Hill City, the Hill City Schools, the Custer Area Arts Council, Jewel of the West, and Heart of the Hills Economic Development.


Vucurevich Foundation supports Tarim residency

The John T. Vucurevich Foundation has awarded an $8,000 grant to the Hill City Arts Council (HCAC) to support the May residency of Tarim, a musical ensemble from China and the final component of the HCAC’s two-year Arts Midwest World Fest program.

Tarim, which celebrates the culture of the ancient caravan Silk Road, will be in residence the week of May 5, 2013, including a May 11 public concert and activities with schools in Custer, Hill City, Lead/Deadwood and the Black Hills Children’s Home. The World Fest program has included previous Black Hills residencies by performing arts ensembles from Bali, Egypt and Israel — which were enthusiastically received by area communities.

"The Arts Midwest World Fest program has been an unqualified success, and the john T. Vucurevich Foundation's contribution will ensure that the program concludes on a high note," HCAC president Kristin Donnan Standard said.

"Thanks to our sponsors, we have been able to provide students, teachers, and community members with amazing cross-cultural exchanges. Participants have learned about the music, dance, and history of the countries represented, and gained what promise to be lifelong friendships with the musicians. Each ensemble has made an enduring impact on us."

While Arts Midwest, the regional arm of the National Endowment for the Arts, covers transportation between residencies and most of the artist fees, the HCAC—the South Dakota host for the current two-year engagement—raises additional funds and is responsible for lodging, transportation, technical support, marketing, and hospitality during each residency.

Although the Vucurevich Foundation grant will provide the majority of the funds needed for the Tarim residency, much-needed funding also will be provided by other sponsors, including the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Lead Deadwood Arts Center, Deadwood History, Inc., and Pine Rest Cabins. Previous sponsors of the Hill City-based events have included local businesses, schools, city councils and nonprofit organizations, and generous individuals with ties to the various participating countries

The John T. Vucurevich Foundation grant will provide the majority of the funds needed for the Tarim residency. With this gift, the Foundation joins the program's 2011-2013 sponsors, which include local businesses, schools, city councils, nonprofit organizations, and generous individuals with ties to the various participating countries; a complete list is available on the HCAC website,

 Learn more about the World Fest program, including its wide range of national and international sponsors, at the Arts Midwest website:

The John T. Vucurevich Foundation, headquartered in Rapid City, awards grants to charitable organizations committed to helping the poor, distressed and under-privileged; the advancement of the arts, education and science; and promotion of social welfare within South Dakota, with preference given to the West River area and, in particular, the Black Hills Region. Learn more at


Hill City has been selected as the only South Dakota venue for the current round of an exciting two-year program featuring music ensembles from around the world. The Hill City Arts Council was acknowledged as the perfect host for this cross-cultural program thanks to its successful history of executing national-level grants and presenting world-class programming.

In hosting a top-notch program like Arts Midwest World Fest, we want to offer the best experience to our visiting artists, along with providing maximum exposure and educational opportunities in our local communities.

This event was offered to Hill City Arts Council and is primarily funded by Arts Midwest, "our" regional arm of the National Endowment for the Arts. For each ensemble that visits Hill City, Arts Midwest provides $25,000 of funding to cover travel, food, and performance fees for the artists. As the local host, we raise additional funds for each ensemble, and we fund housing, hospitality, marketing, and technical / sound expenses. If you are a fan of multi-cultural arts events, and are interested in in co-sponsoring any or all of the World Fest engagements, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. !

Final engagement:

SPRING 2013: TARIM / China — May 5 - 11

For more information on Arts Midwest World Fest, please visit these links:

Countries & Cultures
Music & Videos

World Fest Fact Sheet

Visit Arts Midwest for information on World Fest

Most recent engagement:

FALL 2012: ÇUDAMANI / Bali, Indonesia — Sept. 16-22

“I can’t believe Hill City is able to receive such a gift!” was one comment after last Saturday night’s concert by Çudamani, the Balinese group that appeared at the Hill City High School theater as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. “Amazing,” was another common refrain.

            Like the Egyptian and Israeli groups before them, Çudamani arrived for a week’s tour that included not only the finale concert, but also a community reception and workshop, as well as several school workshops in Hill City, Custer, Hermosa, the Star Academy and the Children’s Home of the Black Hills. The event was hosted by the Hill City Arts Council (HCAC) with the help of Arts Midwest—the region’s arm of the National Endowment for the Arts—and several local sponsors.

            “Both kids and adults loved this group,” HCAC president Kristin Donnan Standard said. “Students in all the workshops were mesmerized. They were so curious about the instruments, the music, the costumes, and the dance. In workshops, they were able to ask questions and interact with the musicians, and in each case felt warmly heard by the ensemble members.”

            The entire community was taken by the kindness of the musicians, who made themselves available for visiting with passers-by, volunteers—and local Native elders and dancers, who provided their own part of the cultural exchange. Several ensemble members went fishing on two of their eight days here, and the entire group made time to visit both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials, as well as several local businesses.

            “They traveled in a pack,” Standard said. “Çudamani is an extended family group, and they truly love being together—so basically we toured 16 people around Hill City and our surrounding area. Whoever worked with them became part of the family, too—that was part of the charm.”

            The concert provided the perfect conclusion to an entirely successful week. The theater was sold out by Friday, and HCAC volunteers scrambled to ensure a quality experience for everyone. The show included music and dance numbers that, according to the ensemble’s directors, escalated in difficulty throughout the performance. Audience members commented on the precise dance movements, elaborate costumes, and sounds “we’ve never heard before”—from instruments including bronze gongs and other handmade xylophone-like creations.

            Jan and Steve Johnson of Pine Rest Cabins have participated in providing housing for all of the Arts Midwest World Fest groups. Jan summed up this latest experience: Çudamani “has given us a glimpse of the other side of the world and more evidence of our shared soul…. (When they left), it was like saying good- bye to family.”

Thanks from the ensemble:

“Thank you for an amazing week. Çudamani felt so warmly welcomed into the community. What a beautiful program you put together for us, what wonderful people in your community and what powerful leaders you are to gently blaze this trail of mutual respect and understanding between places as far apart, but as close in spirit, as the Black Hills and Bali. Thank you.”

And from the Hill City Arts Council board of directors:

With your donations of food, time, expertise, and/or thank-you gifts for the ensemble, our new Balinese friends had an “amazing” experience. A warm thanks goes to this event’s sponsors and special supporters:

• Black Forest Inn            • Black Hills Bronze            • Bryon Christian          • City of Hill City          • Custer Area Arts Council

• Dakota Nature & Art       • Everything Prehistoric           • Grand Magic Show             • Hill City Schools             • Jewel of the West

• Jon Crane Gallery          • Erv Nesheim                • Pine Rest Cabins              • Ben Rhodd               • Randy Ross              • Cathy Rost

• South Dakota Arts Council             • Warrior’s Work & Ben West Gallery             • The Yellowhawk Family

• And HCAC board spouses and parents!

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Past engagements:

SPRING 2012 — May 7 - 13:

Yamma Ensemble / Isreal

yam.audience 3205The momentum continued with a charming Israeli group—who brought some similar instruments as their Egyptian counterparts, but unique stories about the "melting pot" that is Israel. They brought a mixture of haunting Middle Eastern sounds and the influences of several different countries. School kids loved the ability to participate in playing some percussion, and everyone walked away with a few new words. Hundreds of students in Hill City, Custer, Hermosa, and the Star Academy—as well as community members from across the Black Hills—turned out for workshops, the reception, and the finale concert. But most of all, the entire community gained new friends, and heard stories it will never forget.

To see audience reviews, photos, and videos of our Yamma engagement, please click here.

Photos by Eric Young Smith  


FALL 2011 — Oct. 9 - 15:


Our first group was Wust el Balad, a folk-rock group from Cairo, Egypt. They visited the area in October, 2011, to rave reviews.

This was a fantastic debut of the program in Hill City; the group conducted 10 workshops—nine for school children and one for the community—as well as a public concert for a packed house. Because of Hill City’s location and size, we not only enjoyed having the ensemble in our elementary through high school classes, but we also transported our visitors to schools in Custer, Hermosa, and Star Academy. In the process, Wust el Balad performed for more than 1,500 children in schools, and for nearly 500 people of all ages in the public concert.

To see audience reviews, photos, and videos of our Wust el Balad engagement, please click here.