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"Kashgar Legend", Sounds from the Distant Past
    2008-09-22 18:21:05     CRIENGLISH.com

Kashgar is a world-renowned historic and cultural city located in China's western frontier in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Children from five local ethnic groups in Kashgar gave a fantastic performance 'Kashgar Legend' in Beijing recently. Let's follow our reporter Xiaoyu to learn more.

The song and dance by 41 children from Kashgar turned the show at Poly Theater, one of China's best venues, into a big party. Dressed in multi-colored costumes, singing beautiful songs and dancing enthusiastically, these children amazed the audience and showcased the unique culture of their hometown.
 
"They put up a good show. I got to know a lot about Xinjiang culture through their performance."

"I think it's interesting. I liked the last program the most. It reminds me of my happy summer camp when my friends and I sang songs around the fire."
 
"It's wonderful. The best bit for me was the style of their music, just like Arabic music so enchanting with exciting rhythms. I like all the programs, each has their own characters. And the kids are so cute. They are born to dance. They look like they've danced since they were two or three. I love them."

Kids from Kashgar Children Artistic Troupe[Photo source: ctbn.com]

The Ambassador of Egypt to China, Mahmoud Allam, also watched the show. He appreciated seeing something close to their culture.

"It's in some way very close to our middle-east culture, when it comes to something like music, food and things like that. So I'm glad to see this culture preserved and being nurtured and developed."

Aging from five to fourteen, the young performers comprise China's first children's artistic troupe of small ethnic minorities.

They are from Tajik, Kirgiz, Uzbek ethnic groups and the two Uyghur tribes of Dolan and Kunlun Mountain.

They eulogize the cultural legacies from the western plateaus with game plays, costume shows, prayers and paeans, including a piece of Mukam, one of the four Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity announced by UNESCO. Their tender and unsophisticated voice takes the audience right to the Pamirs and the countryside in China's western regions.

Chinese scholar Yu Qiuyu, who was also in the theater to check out the show, was all praise for it.

"For many years, I have been concerned about the ethnic children. Their art is inspired by innocence and life itself. The kids have never been to the big citiesnever been influenced by outside world, as we say. Most of them are from families of farmers and herdsmen. This is the first time they've come to Beijing. Some of them have never even been to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. So what they show is the purest art."

Having prepared for only six months, the highland kids overcame numerous obstacles to put up a three-and-a-half hour show on China's most grand stage.

Endowed with the gift of music by nature, members of those groups sing and dance in daily life and children are no exception. History and culture is passed down through songs and ballads generation by generation.

The children aren't trained professionally, which has its advantages and difficulties. Program advisor Kurax Rajap, who has a bird's eye view of the process, has this to say.

"The biggest problem was that they only knew their tribe's songs and dances. They had no idea about other groups' arts. They couldn't do that, especially when feeling nervous about being in a big city for the first time. They knew nothing about rehearsing and projecting their voice. Also they each have their own ethnic languages, eating habits and individual personalities. It's not easy for them to live together! But step by step, we solved all the problems patiently."

In the Poly Theatre, they sang songs passed down from their forefathers in their ethnic languages and performed a dozen folk dances accompanied with ethnic music.

People were moved by the rich heritage of the Xinjiang and the pure souls of the young performers. The children's singing was like what the Kirgiz epic "Manas" describes in its first lines:

Ancestors have left to us stories about heroes.
I'll sing them with my soul to pass them down.

Founder of the Kashgar Children Artistic Troupe Wang Ji Yan further explains..

"Seeing from a map, you will find there is only one place where the four civilization systems converge: that is Kashgar. It's the center of Eurasia, and the junction of silk roads. Therefore, it has rich sources of stories and history."

For Beyond Beijing, I'm Xiaoyu.

Back anchor:
According to Wang Jiyan, the Kashgar Legend is following up last year's "Hulun Buir Fantasy", which is a reflection of the eastern part of China's grassland culture. There will be another show about Southeastern China's Yunan culture coming up soon.

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