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Uzbek dance

"Rustam had once explained to me that the lazgi dance was the song of creation. God had commanded the angel Gabriel to play the surnai, and out of the music God had created Adam and Eve. This story was reflected in the dance, as man and woman were brought to life through the music. Catriona and Seitske - a Dutch nurse - had abandoned their health education programme to join us for the day, and dragged the weavers into the centre of the courtyard to dance. Each girl lifted one hand, letting the wrist hang limp, and swayed her body like a weeping willow as the surnai continued its long, haunting melody. They froze as the music stopped and then abruptly shifted to staccato rhythms, the hand-held drum joining in. The music increased in speed and volume and soon Rustam was sweating. His instrument was the hardest to master and, like the oboe, required circular breathing. Toychi the dyer, an excellent dancer, joined the fray and I suddenly found myself dragged by him into the middle. Unlike the women's swaying motion, the men danced in a series of jerks with lots of snapping of the fingers and exaggerated facial expressions. The music increased in pace and inhibitions were cast aside as Andrea was dragged in by one of the weavers. Even Madrim - not without protest - joined us. The music stopped, followed by polite applause from the Mayor's entourage who had considered it undignified to join in."

Christopher Aslan Alexander "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" 2010

The dancing art of the Uzbek people advanced from ancient times. Images of dancing figures have been preserved in the cave drawings and other archaeological sites of times immemorial. The art of dancers from Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khorezm was already known in many countries of the East in the 4th - 8th centuries.

National Uzbek dance is very expressive. It presents all the beauty of nation. The Uzbek national dance has been preserved in two forms: traditional classical and national (folklore) dance. Ferghana ("Katta yuin"), Bukhara ("Maqom raqsi"), and Khorezm ("Ufori maqom") schools of dance are popular for their classical features. The national dance is very diverse. It is cheerful, lyrical, and dramatic with its regional differences, and is mainly preserved in mountainous areas of the country.

Classic traditional Uzbek dance is the art, studied in choreographic schools and demonstrated on a stage. There are three schools of Uzbek dance: Ferghana, Bukhara and Khorezm. Ferghana dances are differed with softness, smoothness and expressiveness of gestures, light sliding step, original motions. Bukhara dance is distinguished with sharpness of gestures, leaned back shoulders and very beautiful goldwork costumes. Khorezm style differs with original and distinctive motions.

Folk Uzbek dance includes traditions of almost any region and displays wonderful variety. People dance them on weddings and family holidays, rural and urban events. These dances are handed over from generation to generation and preserve ancient dance traditions as well as today and past lifestyles.

In the early 20th century the Uzbek dance began to take shape of the mass arts. In 1923 a concert group of young executors was launched in the country (M. Koriyokuhov). Later in 1926 the first State mobile ethnographic group was established, with renowned musicians and a young dancer, Tamara Khonim joining the team.

In 1936 the first ensemble of various song and dance has been established in the country (choreographers: 0. Komilov, I. Okilov, L. Petrosova, E. Baranovsky, and M. Turgunbaeva). In 1956 the ensemble was known as "Shodlik", and now - as "O'zbekiston". This ensemble has enormously contributed to the development of the Uzbek classical dance.

In 1957 M. Turghunbaeva founded an ensemble "Bakhor" ('spring') and supervised it up to the end of her life. This ensemble introduced the Uzbek dance to the whole world. After M. Turghunbaeva, K. Mirkarimova, R. Sharipova, M. Irgasheva, and Yu. Ismatova led the ensemble. In 1958 the "Lazgi" ensemble was established.

Besides, state ensembles, there are more than hundred different other amateur ensembles in Uzbekistan. Various shows and television festivals are regularly held. Renowned performers are: Yusufjon Qyzyq Shakarjonov, Usta Olim Komilov, Otakhoja Saidazimov, Sharafot Satang Turaeva, Mikhalkhonim Khaimova, Bokijon Sagdullaev, Ravia Atajanova, Latif Zafirov, and others.

Famous dancers of 60s and 90s are: T. Yunusova, O. Sagatova, V. Romanova, R. Nizomova, M. Irgasheva, D. Jabborova, B. Dustmuhammedova, M. Akhmedova, R. Sultonova, K. Muminov, and Yulduz Ismatova.