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The Mechanics of the Uyghur Dance

March 17 | No Comments

A spirited Uyghur dance in the streets of Kashgar, Xinjiang

The Uyghur dance tradition like none other.  No celebration, either religious or otherwise, takes place without a bit of loud music and a dance floor.  It really is a treat for the eyes even if your ears are collateral damage and I’ve taken the liberty of catching some of it on film for you.

Before you take a look at the video, though, read this brief overview of the Uyghur dance

Breaking down the Uyghur Dance

You’ll notice two things right off the bat when you watch this video.

  • An old man doing a Uyghur dance at a weddingIt is very common, if not expected, for men to dance with men and women to dance with women.  Co-ed dancing still occurs, of course, but it seems to be less frequent.  Thankfully there’s no contact involved in the dancing, however I still find myself laughing when I get on a dance floor and I have another man twirling, singing and flailing his arms all around me!  It’s more than a little uncomfortable for those who have never done it before.
  • This dancing looks easy, right?  Just shuffle your feet and move your hands in constantly reversing arcs and you’ll be fine.  Wrong.  It’s deceptively difficult.  All it takes is watching one foreigner make a fool out of himself “mimicking” what he sees on the dance floor and you’ll know that there’s a little more finesse involved.  The women are even harder (or so my wife says) because they have to move their hands and head in slow, exotic movements while keeping their torso somewhat straight and their feet constantly changing.

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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