Baladino in Sisseton, SD

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Sisseton, South Dakota is a community that many visitors from other countries may not find an opportunity to visit when traveling in the United States. Earlier this month, however, Baladino spent a week performing and giving workshops in Sisseton, and the group was impressed by the rich Native American culture and strong sense of community on the Lake Traverse Dakota Indian reservation.

Baladino at Dakota Magic Casino
Baladino’s first stop was the Dakota Magic Casino, where they were welcomed with a ceremony. Band members joined the Dakota round dance as Wambdi Gill drummed and sang.

Darlene and Yael displaying the earrings
As a welcoming gift, Darlene Pipeboy presented Yael Badash with a gift of beautiful beaded earrings.

As is true in many World Fest communities, cultural exchange in Sisseton goes two ways during residencies, with bands from other countries learning about the art and culture of the Dakota people.

Yshai holding a hand drum while two others look on
Yshai Afterman is the percussionist for Baladino, and he took the opportunity to learn from locals David Flute and Wambdi Gill.

On stage with Bryan Akipa
Bryan Akipa is a highly regarded Native American flute player. Last fall when Le Vent Du Nord visited Sisseton, a highlight of their residency was the opportunity to play with Bryan. Baladino was also lucky to have the opportunity to collaborate with Bryan, who played a hand-carved traditional red cedar flute.

Drum group on left, student dancing in traditional Native American dress on the right
At the Tiospa Zina Tribal School, Yshai was given the opportunity to join a Dakota drum group (left), and a student performed a traditional Dakota dance as Tomer played fiddle (right).

Several people at a party
Pictured: Jenny Nelson, Elias Mendoza, Yonnie Dror, and Jane Rasmussen

Jane Rasmussen of the Sisseton Arts Council is the Arts Midwest World Fest community contact, a position with many responsibilities including coordinating the week’s events, reaching out to form partnership relationships in the community, and working to make sure that each band has everything they need while in town. At this dinner at the home of local residents Bill and Peg Torness, Jane cheerfully kept the wine flowing as guests mingled with the artists. After weeks on the road, Daniel could not conceal his excitement at the beautiful feast prepared by Jane Rasmussen, Peg Torness, and Kate Solberg.

Daniel looking very excited by the buffet feast before him
Pictured: Daniel Sapir, Peg Torness, and Kate Solberg

Baladino in concert
Communities have a lot of choices in managing their World Fest residencies, and as they did last fall with Le Vent Du Nord, Jane Rasmussen and her team of volunteers and partners worked hard to ensure that the public concert at the Sisseton Performing Art Center would be free of cost—something that they feel represents the core values of Sisseton and the surrounding community.

Yonnie and Daniel in front of a tall, wooden tower
Yonnie Dror and Daniel Sapir take the opportunity while in Sisseton to catch the view from the Nicollet Tower and Interpretive Center. From the top, it’s possible to see three states that are now familiar to Baladino: Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Baladino in concert


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