Road Stories Blog

Yamma Ensemble returns to the Midwest

Middle school workshop with Yamma Ensemble

By Arts Midwest

We’re excited to welcome back Yamma Ensemble for their second tour as part of the 2011–2013 Arts Midwest World Fest!

The group arrives this week to begin a tour through the western states in our region:

Wausau, WI – April 15-21, 2012
Detroit Lakes, MN – April 22-28, 2012
Devils Lake, ND – April 29-May 5, 2012
Hill City, SD – May 6-12, 2012

Full event details

During their previous tour in fall 2011, Yamma Ensemble hosted inspiring hands-on workshops and demonstrations, sharing their unique musical blend with students who were excited to meet people from another country a

A sendoff from Elyria, Ohio

Tarim dancers pour water from the cups after the dance.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The weather was incredibly warm the last few weeks of the tour. When they arrived in Chicago on February 16, it was still winter. We were wrapped in winter coats, scarves, and boots. By the end of the tour in Elyria, Ohio, we needed short sleeves and lightweight clothes.

Springtime in Wabash, Indiana

Dancers in colorful costumes with students on stage

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We left Saugatuck, MI, on Sunday morning and made a stop at a Halal meat market in Fort Wayne, IN. It was a small store, and the store manager was overwhelmed when all 20 of us walked in. I bet it was the biggest day since he opened the store! We bought beef, mutton, chicken, and some sweets, and we planned to have a big feast when we got to Wabash, IN.

Colorful crocuses and daffodils in full bloom accented the beautifully renovated Charley Creek Inn, our home in Wabash.

Saugatuck, Michigan

Dancing with kids on stage

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We left Charleston, IL, in the early morning of Sunday, March 4, and stopped in Chicago on our way to Saugatuck.

We had lunch at a restaurant on Chicago’s North Side that served food from Uzbekistan, and then our bus driver, Bob, drove us downtown for some quick sightseeing. Near the planetarium, everyone got out of the bus and took thousands of pictures with the Chicago skyline in the background.

Our first workshop in the Saugatuck area was at Glenn Public School. It’s a one-room school with a total of 50 students from K-6.

Audience reactions to Tarim's workshops and performances

Large musical ensemble outside in the park on a sunny day

By Arts Midwest

Tarim: Uygur Song and Dance continues to make their way across the Midwest, conducting educational workshops, sharing their music, and offering our communities a taste of their beautiful culture.

Warm welcome for Tarim in Charleston, Illinois

Dancers in traditional Uygur dress perform in a high school gymnasium.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We left Red Oak early in the morning on Sunday, February 26th. Larry Brandstetter in Red Oak found a Halal meat market in Des Moines, Iowa, so we made a stop. Tarim members were very pleased to get some halal meat, which is very hard to find sometimes in the Midwest. Some members bought prayer rugs, also, and then we were on the bus for another 350 miles to Charleston, Illinois.

Tarim's first U.S. tour begins in Red Oak, Iowa

Eight people post for a photo

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Tarim ensemble (pronounced tah-rim) is from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Provence in the far western region of China. The distance from Urumqi to Chicago is 6,514 miles, and the ensemble members took two connecting flights and traveled over 20 hours to reach Chicago. This is their first visit to the U.S. and everyone was very excited to finally arrive.

The group was scheduled to land in Chicago on February 16th, but they missed their connecting flight in Los Angeles and didn’t arrive until noon on Friday, Feb 17th.

Last tour stop in Red Oak, Iowa

High school students learn how to use different drums.

By Eric Young Smith, tour manager

After another inspiring week in Charleston, Illinois, we faced our longest drive thus far on our tour. The GPS informed me that our drive from Charleston, Illinois to Red Oak, Iowa was a daunting 470 miles, or eight and a half hours on the road.

While I have traversed this distance in one day many times, I couldn’t help but think this would be a cross-country trek a few times over back home for my Israeli friends. They had already repeatedly expressed their awareness of a difference in scale: big house, big car, big food, big sky, big country.

Yamma Ensemble in Charleston, Illinois

Band plays for high school students on the floor of a gymnasium.

By Eric Young Smith, tour manager

Sunday morning came early, and we left the still-sleeping village of Saugatuck behind us to arrive that afternoon in Charleston, Illinois for a special event. Our next residency was to be hosted by Eastern Illinois University’s Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Saugatuck, Holland, and South Haven, Michigan

Yamma Ensemble on stage under blue lights.

By Eric Young Smith

After packing for a modest road trip, we left Wabash, Indiana. We had a full week of workshops and engagements, and knowing it was time to leave our new friends left us wanting more time in all of our past World Fest communities.

Our road trip began with talk of memories and experiences of the tour, and as the miles went by, so did the landscape. As we approached south Michigan toward the southeast corner of Lake Michigan, the topography changed from nurtured farm lands to rolling dunes of sand, and forests ablaze with color, shining in the afternoon sun.