Performances strike a chord with excited crowds in Alexandria
The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which represented China as the guest of honor at the 15 th International Summer Festival held from July 10 to August 26 at Egypt’s seaside historical city of Alexandria, thrilled viewers with its performances on Monday.
The shows by different ethnic groups from Xinjiang, with their colorful traditional outfits and music impressed the viewers at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, one of the largest venues for cultural and artistic activities in the Middle East.
“The shows were really beautiful. It is the first time that I am seeing such beautiful performances. We hope more such activities are held in Egypt,” says Amal Ali, an employee in her early 50s.
The performances included Uygur, Tajik, Kirgiz, Kazak, Mongolian and Han group dances, in a style referred to as “DanSinging in the Air” for combining both dancing and singing, in addition to male and female solo singing.
Besides the group dancing and singing, the acrobatic performances were also appreciated.
Speaking about the performances, Ashraqat Hamdy, a junior college student at Alexandria University says: “I really enjoyed the shows. Such events bring the peoples of Egypt and China closer and will encourage Egyptians to start learning Chinese and make Chinese friends.”
Ahmed Mostafa, a sound engineer, photographer and tango dancer, who attended the event, says the performances were inspiring for the Egyptian dancers, musicians and artists who were there.
“I felt the music was similar to ours. The singing was also close to ours and they played an Egyptian song beautifully. The acrobatic shows were stunning too,” he adds.
Many in the audience said that they felt that the performances, the musical instruments exhibition and the photo gallery took them to China and made them curious to learn more about the country.
Morad Abbas, head of the Arabic department of the Faculty of Arts at Alexandria University, says: “The shows reflected the variety of Chinese culture. In addition, they even performed some Egyptian songs, which enriched the festival and made us feel that human civilization is one.”
Xinjiang, which is home to 23 million people, is China’s largest autonomous region, occupying about one sixth of the total area of China and comprises 47 ethnic groups.
One of the most popular performances was the “flowery belt” Uygur dance that portrays young men trying to express their feelings to pretty girls.
Speaking about the crowd reaction, Omanguri Stick, who has been doing this performance for 25 years, says: “When I appeared on stage after four male dancers, I was stunned by the cheers. “It’s a pleasant surprise and I am happy they loved our performance.”
“It’s very important for an artist to perform in different countries and communicate with different cultures and peoples. It is a pleasure to be here and present Chinese culture to Egypt.”
In a nearby hall, there was “2017 Experience China,” an exhibition and photo gallery on the lifestyle, traditions and history of Xinjiang and West China.
The exhibition, inaugurated by Alexandria Governor Mohamed Sultan and China’s Consul General in Alexandria Xu Nanshan, showcases Xinjiang’s traditional music instruments as well as a photo gallery.
Commenting on the exhibition, the governor says: “Such events are important for cultural exchanges and enhancing cultural ties.”
He described relations between Egypt and China as “very strong,” stressing his country’s keenness to deepen ties with China.
Chen Dongyun, the cultural counselor of the Chinese embassy and director of the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo, says the event seeks to introduce Xinjiang to the Egyptian people and widen the friend- ship between the two nations.
“We hope that cooperation through China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the economy, technology, education and culture spheres elevates Egypt-China ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership,” he adds.
Artists from China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region dance in Alexandria, Egypt on July 10.