Intl dance festival celebrates BRI’s 10th anniversary

July 22, 2023

The 6th China Xinjiang International Dance Festival kicked off in Urumqi, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday. The festival showcased outstanding troupes from 11 countries and regions, including Russia, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Thailand and South Africa, in the renowned dancing and singing hub.

Xu Ruijun, an official of the Culture and Tourism Department of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said at a press conference for the event that in light of the 10th anniversary of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the festival will underscore the Silk Road and strive to strengthen exchanges and cooperation among Belt and Road countries and regions.

Photo: Courtesy of the festival

Photo: Courtesy of the festival
Themed “Dreams of Dance, Harmony of Silk Road,” the dance festival features 28 acclaimed performances from domestic and international troupes. In total, about 60 diverse and captivating shows, covering ballet, folk dance drama and musical dance drama, will be shown. Nadezhda Makeeva, a veteran Russian dancer, told the Global Times that this is the first time the 48-member troupe has come to Xinjiang. She expressed her pleasure at being able to dance with so many international troupes and communicate with them through the art of dance. 

Ho Ho-fei, a young senior dancer with the Hong Kong Dance Company, told the Global Times it was an honor for him to participate in the dance feast. During breaks from rehearsal, he has been chatting with the enthusiastic Xinjiang dancers, which has made him look even more forward to exploring the culture of Xinjiang.

Photo: Courtesy of the festival

Photo: Courtesy of the festivalAt the opening ceremony on Thursday night, the grand Chinese historical dance drama Zhang Qian, an original Xinjiang dance drama, debuted on stage. 

Ma Yire Aimaitijiang, one of the protagonists of Zhang Qian and a senior dancer from the Xinjiang Art Theater, told the Global Times that taking part in the production felt like taking a time machine to go back thousands of years ago and witnessing cultural envoy Zhang Qian of the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220) travel along the ancient Silk Road to the Western Regions, where her ancestors lived. 

She added that she hopes the audience can gain a deeper understanding of Xinjiang and the history of the Silk Road through the show.

Xing Shimiao, the chief director of the opening ceremony, said that the dance festival is the ideal platform to showcase the significant development of Xinjiang since the BRI was proposed a decade ago. He described the dance festival as an “unprecedented” event in Xinjiang as so many international dance troupes, especially those from BRI member countries, have gathered in the region to communicate through dance. 

The event will provide local residents of all ethnicities the opportunity to enjoy high-quality performances in their hometown, share Xinjiang’s cultural evolution with the world, and enhance their cultural appreciation and fulfillment, he said.