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Xinhua Headlines: Global dancers revel in enchanting Xinjiang

by Xinhua writers Deng Yushan, Liu Hongxia, Zhao Chenjie

URUMQI, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Before her departure back home, Russian dancer Sofia Efremenko conveyed her gratitude, describing her week-long stay in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region as "amazing and unforgettable," and expressed a strong desire to visit the region again in the future.

The 17-year-old dancer, with members of her song and dance ensemble "Zorenka," was in Xinjiang to take part in an international dance festival, which will last until Aug. 5.

The 6th China Xinjiang International Dance Festival has attracted over 1,000 artists from countries and regions in Asia, Europe and Africa, and they are expected to stage some 60 well-known performances. Additionally, the festival provides a unique opportunity for the participants to experience the beauty of Xinjiang and explore all that this remarkable region has to offer.

ART TRANSCENDS BORDERS

Some 2,000 years ago, Zhang Qian, an envoy of China's Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), made his maiden visit to Central Asia via Xinjiang, and initiated a trade route that later became the Silk Road.

The story has been transformed into a dance drama and was performed on the opening night of the dance festival.

"Everything was very readable and insanely beautiful, including the costumes, the setting and the work of the choreographers," Efremenko said.

In a captivating hexagonal pavilion at the Xinjiang Art Theater, the dance troupe members from the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute of Thailand and the Muqam Art Troupe of Xinjiang Art Theater came together to put on a remarkable performance.

Amidst the mesmerizing ambiance, Chinese musicians skillfully tapped the tambourine and plucked the strings of the traditional folk musical instrument, Rewap. As the music gradually intensified with a faster tempo, Thai performer Suwannee Choosen matched the rhythm, accelerating the motion of her Saw duang, or Thai fiddle, with graceful bow strokes. The harmonious blend of cultures and musical talents created a captivating symphony that enchanted the audience.

"When I first heard the sound of Rewap, I found it somewhat unique," said Choosen. "When it was accompanied by the sound of Saw duang, the ensemble turned out to be harmonious and enjoyable."

The Thai dance troupe is one of the 11 foreign troupes participating in this festival. In addition to showcasing their own unique dance styles, the performances of some countries artfully incorporated elements from other nations, creating a delightful fusion of cultures on stage.

Djurabaeva Khosiljanova, a member of the Dance Troupe of Uzbekistan National Grand Theatre "Tumor," said their troupe rehearsed for more than two months and incorporated Chinese dance in the performance, with the melody of the Chinese folk song "Xi Yang Yang," or "Full of Joy."

The dance drama "A Dream of Red Mansions," adapted from the Chinese classic novel that tells the stories about the rise and fall of four noble families, was also performed at the ongoing festival.

"Dance is a language and a way of communication. Swaying, raising hands and other moves express our understanding of the famous work to those who love dance and art," said Li Xing, the director of the drama.

According to Wang Yongge, a professor at Xinjiang Arts University, the festival serves as a communication platform, fostering dance performances, encouraging theoretical research and promoting collaboration among relevant higher education institutions.

Enthralled by The Sleeping Beauty performance by the Ballet Troupe of the National Grand Theatre of Belarus, He Yihang, a resident of Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi, could hardly contain her excitement, exclaiming, "It felt like a dream come true! We can enjoy the world's top art performances at home."

During this vibrant dance carnival, theaters have been bustling with the enthusiastic presence of both locals and numerous tourists from various parts of China, all coming together to revel in the joyous aura.

A GLIMPSE OF REAL XINJIANG

After a day-long air journey, Nomthandazo Mlungwana, the project manager of the South African dance troupe, along with her fellow members, arrived at the Urumqi Diwopu International Airport to a delightful welcome from their Chinese counterparts. A dancer from Xinjiang Art Theater, donning a doppa with diversified patterns and a pink robe, presented a bouquet of flowers to Mlungwana.

Soon after, the Chinese and South African artists danced in perfect sync, swaying and swishing to the music's rhythm.

"We feel at home here," said Mlungwana, adding that they were "all fascinated by Xinjiang folk dances."

Ho Ho-Fei, a senior dancer from the Hong Kong Dance Company, who had previously studied Xinjiang dance and seen people dancing during festivals, said: "Xinjiang dance exudes confidence and joy that runs through Xinjiang people's blood and bones. As the music starts, they move naturally."

Inside the Xinjiang Art Museum, a multimedia screen showcased dancers in action, and Efremenko and her peers eagerly attempted to imitate their moves. The screen showed people of different ethnic groups of Xinjiang singing, dancing and celebrating the harvest.

"Xinjiang is doing a good job in protecting and promoting multi-ethnic cultures, and in a high-tech way; impressive," Efremenko said.

Yelubay Kenzhaliyev, head of the State Dance Ensemble of the Republic of Kazakhstan "Saltanat," said: "Xinjiang is not like what I had thought. It is modern and fashionable."

As the dance festival progresses, more artists, including those from the Republic of Korea and Georgia, are expected to arrive. Their journey to Xinjiang holds significance beyond mere performance and art, promising enriching cultural exchanges and lasting connections.

The festival's organizing committee received a heartfelt message from Mlungwana on Wednesday. She said the members of the South African troupe were deeply moved by the warm hospitality and enthusiasm shown by the people of Xinjiang.

"We treasure the profound friendship of the Xinjiang people, and will always remember and spread it when we get back home," the message read.