Working to keep Uygur folk tradition alive

( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-04-20 08:24:32

Working to keep Uygur folk tradition alive

Forever Meshrep, choreographed by Dilnar Abdulla, is a showcase of Xinjiang's traditional music and dance.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Dilnar Abdulla often looks to her hometown, Urumqi, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, for inspiration.

The veteran meshrep dancer-choreographer made her name with dance pieces themed on the region, including Girl of Dabancheng Town and Picking Grape. Two years ago, she directed a new show, titled Forever Meshrep, by working with the Singing and Dancing Troupe of Opera House of Xinjiang Theater.

After a successful tour of the region, which is located in Northwest China, the show was staged at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 18.

"For Xinjiang people, music and dance are as natural as food and air. All my dances are from our culture and tradition," says the 49-year-old.

Meshrep is a folk tradition of Xinjiang, and in Uygur language, it means a "get together" or "venue". It involves singing, dancing, acrobatics, games and storytelling.

But like many traditional art forms in China, meshrep is facing extinction. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding by UNESCO in 2010.

Traditionally, more men than women perform meshrep.

"I can still recall the vivid scenes from my childhood. In the spacious courtyards, public squares or in the houses, you were sure to find such a performer," recalls Abdulla, who was born and grew up in Urumqi, the regional capital.

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