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Learning the Art of Uyghur Dolan Meshrep

Learning the Art of Uyghur Dolan Meshrep

By Rebecca Martin

 

It was over a month ago that I received an email requesting volunteers to participate in a Uyghur dance performance and thought, “I enjoy dancing and being new to the CEUS department, I'd like to be more involved, so why not?” At the first meeting, I met Jewher Ilham and Mustafa Kerimoglu, two students with a background in traditional Uyghur dance. I and nine other students were lucky enough to learn a beautiful Uyghur dance known as Dolan Meshrep, which is a men and women's group dance.

It was challenging for those of us without a background in dance, but our teachers had a lot of patience with us. At first we met about twice a week, but kicked it up to everyday as the date for our performance at the World Fair approached. The women's part featured flowery hand gestures and vigorous twirling movements that required some complex footwork, often putting our knees and ankles at odd angles we were not accustomed to; I woke up with sore legs on a few occasions! The men's part included beating on hand-held drums in sync with the music and joining the women in circular formations. These formations involved expanding and contracting as a large circle while sweeping our arms from side to side and shouting in a celebratory manner, as well as splitting into two smaller circles rotating in opposite directions, one inside the other. All in all, it was a good workout and a lot of fun.

Performing at the World Fair was an exciting experience. We are very proud of how much we learned after such a short period of training. Each of us received a traditional costume from China, tailored to fit our measurements, and we look forward to more opportunities to wear them. Our eyes are currently set on another festival in January, or perhaps the Nowruz celebration next spring.