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Feature: Xinjiang welcomes global dancers for int'l festival

URUMQI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- As South African dancer Luyanda Mdingji stepped off the plane at Urumqi Airport in the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region late Sunday, he was greeted with a heartfelt welcome. Caught up in the vibrant drum beats, he couldn't resist swaying his waist and hips while waving his arms in sync with the music.

"It was a touching welcome. I quickly got into the rhythm of Xinjiang dance," Mdingji said, expressing his delight in taking part in Meshrep, a traditional Xinjiang cultural activity, alongside local performer Razya Yasen.

This is his first visit to Xinjiang, as well as his maiden experience with Meshrep, which means gathering in Uygur and often includes poetry, music, dance and conversations.

Mdingji and other members of the dance troupe -- Elvis Sibeko Studios of South Africa -- are in Xinjiang to attend the 6th China Xinjiang International Dance Festival, being held from July 20 to Aug. 5.

Six artists from the Muqam Art Troupe of Xinjiang Art Theater put on a special welcome ceremony for them.

Donning a doppa with diversified patterns and a pink robe, Razya Yasen, a dancer from the troupe, presented a bouquet of colorful flowers to one of the South African dancers.

"I was moved when the South African girl hugged me as she received my flowers," Razya Yasen said.

Besides dancing, the Xinjiang artists also played the popular music "Xinjiang is a Good Place" with traditional instruments.

Exmetjan Arkin, who plays the traditional folk musical instrument Rewap, skillfully cradled the wooden body with his left hand while plucking its strings with his right hand.

As the music soared to its crescendo, Qeyserjan Kurban tapped the tambourine with rhythmic precision, his head swaying in harmony with the beat. When the music reached its peak, he seamlessly accelerated the drumbeat with effortless grace.

According to Exmetjan Arkin, the dance festival is not only a platform to display Xinjiang art but also a window to showcase Xinjiang's economic, social and cultural attributes.

"I am looking forward to treating our African friends with cuisines like latiaozi (pulled noodles), dapanji (big plate chicken) and pilaf," he said.

Nomthandazo Mlungwana, project manager of the South African dance troupe, said that she is looking forward to enjoying her time in Xinjiang.

"Xinjiang dance gives people a feeling of home, and we are fascinated by it," she said, adding that she hopes to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the region after the performance.

As the welcome ceremony drew to a close, the artists formed a circle, and Mdingji stepped into the center.

With fervor and passion, he raised his legs and stomped the ground, unleashing the captivating moves of the Zulu dance. His fellow performers joined in, swaying their bodies in sync with the rhythm. Chinese actors and audience members enthusiastically clapped their hands, with some even attempting to imitate the infectious dance.

According to Mdingji, the Zulu dance is a part of the drama "The Kingdom of Ubuntu" that the South African dance troupe will perform on Monday and Tuesday. The drama aims to display social cohesion and cultural diversity.

Over the past few days, dance groups from Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand and other countries and regions have graced the dance festival with their mesmerizing performances.

Themed "Dreams of Dance, Harmony of Silk Road," the festival has attracted more than 1,000 artists from Asia, Europe and Africa.

After their vibrant dance, both Chinese and foreign artists gathered for a group photo, chanting in unison: "Xinjiang is a good place!"