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A couple from Xinjiang teaches Xinjiang dance in Xi’an

When the Xinjiang music starts, Hawagvl Kurban would feel like she has been back in Xinjiang, and the light figure of Hawagvl Kurban flowed among the trees under the Xi'an city wall, like a page of staves, and the dancing people were connected by her like musical notes and became visible song. Barat Osman's tambourine matched his wife's dance steps, and his eyes were full of affection for his wife. Xi'an, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Sanya... In less than 10 years, more than 20,000 people have followed the couple from Hami to learn Xinjiang dance, and the couple is like a ribbon, connecting dance with life, connecting Xinjiang with other parts of China, and connecting the hearts of people.

Photo shows Hawagvl and Barat dance in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/Xie Long

The man sat across from us. No one would call him handsome, and Hawagvl is a beautiful woman. She sat beside her husband and looked at her lover with tenderness.

What brought the two of them together, was it just dancing? Unaware of our doubts, Barat was just busy telling us about his and his wife's hometown.

"My first musical instrument was a broom." Barat said. Since he learned to walk, music has been in Barat's blood. "I just love musical instruments. My father found me Namat Isamidin to be my master. In my eyes, he is the best music man in Wubao Town, which is located in Yizhou District, Hami City, northwest Chinas Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There is no song that he can't sing, no dance that he can't dance, and no instrument that he can't play."

This boy followed Master Namat and began his musical career. His father, not only took him to find his teacher in life, but also taught him about the world. "My father said that Master Namat is the one who has been guiding me in music, and if I regard music as my life, then Master Namat is a father to me." Barat clearly remembered his father's words, "If I leave the world the same day as your master Namat one day, you will arrange his funeral first, and then go about mine."

Days and nights, on the path of Gaudege Village in Wubao Town, in the room for instrument playing, and under the grape trellis, Master Namat accompanied Barat through his childhood and adolescence until Barat was admitted to Hami Normal School.

When Barat was learning in the classroom comfortably, in another school of the same city, Hawagvl, whose father died early, was studying hardworkingly as her mother Saram Yunus wishes, but the flame in her heart for dance lit more fiercely with the approaching of Gaokao, "My mother is a teacher. I was doing well in school, but I had a special affection for dancing. My mother wouldn't let me because she wanted me to be a teacher."

Saram never realized that this quiet and obedient daughter had a strong attachment to and a yearning for dance in her heart all this time, until the admission letter from the Xinjiang Arts University was placed in front of her. "I secretly applied for just Xinjiang Arts University, no other schools." While speaking, tears filled Hawagvl's eyes. "My mother passed away at the end of 2005, I didn't listen to my mother back then, but now, after all those years, I still become a teacher."

How in this world can a mother be mad about her child for long! After crying for two days, my mother began to make preparations for sending me to school.

In 2003, Hawagvl graduated and Barat became a member of the Hami Song and Dance Troupe. That same year, the two met at a performance venue in Beijing. During that six months when they were at Beijing, Hawagvl became Barat's new dance partner.

And then there comes love. "We have known each other for half a year, and when we went to Beijing for the second time to perform, one day, I asked her to accompany me to buy some clothes, and in the last two seats of the N0.78 bus, she was sleepy and fell asleep on my shoulder. When she woke up, I confessed my heart to her, it was January 1th, Barat recalled every detail.

"January 6th." Hawagvl corrected her husband smiling.

When Barat visited Hawagvl's house for the first time in 2004, he recalled that her mother said to him, 'I gave my daughter to you,' and he said don't worry. Barat said seriously, "For so many years, I have always remembered her mother's words."

Dancing, singing, year after year, dance became the couple's life and their job. In 2006, they both resigned and went to Shanghai to make a living from dance.

Work hard in Shanghai

To make a living in one of the largest cities in the world is hard!

The two danced in a Xinjiang restaurant. When not busy, the cheerful and enthusiastic Barat would actively introduce himself and make friends with people, "I like to make friends. Living in this world, you have to have friends."

It was a friend named Tayir who opened new doors for Barat. Tayir loves going to internet cafes very much. For a while, he broke his leg and couldn't go to an Internet café, so Barat would take him there. There were no Internet cafes or direct buses near where Tayir lived, so Barat would carry his friends on his back every day through Shanghai's winding lanes to Internet cafes two kilometers away.

"After finding him a seat in the internet cafe, I would start playing games, but he wouldnt, he would log into QQ firstly and get on with something I didnt know." Barat recalled, "After about ten days, I was really curious, and later I knew that he was contacting performing venues. At that time, Xinjiang dance had not yet been popularized on a large scale, but it was very popular in many performing arts venues. ”

With the help of Tayir, Barat began to search for performing opportunities for himself and his lover through QQ. They gave themselves a name that sounds good and is easy to remember - "Xiangfei Group". Soon, with good dance skills and honest reputation, "Xiangfei Group" became a well-known name in the Yangtze River Delta Performing Arts Club. In October 2010, the two started a family from a lover of six years. In the early summer of 2013, Barat received a text message from his wife: You're going to be a father.

"That day, I spent 3 hours in the bathroom, thought a lot, and finally decided not to do acting." Barat said, "Because the nightclub environment is noisy, it is not good for Hawagvl and our kid. "For the sake of their child, the husband and wife let go of their careers that had gone smoothly. In the calm speech, Barat suddenly became much more handsome in our eyes.

Change careers, what should we do? Selling Xinjiangs dried fruit has made the Barat couple successful again. "When the business in the store was good, we could earn over 10,000 yuan a day." But dance has never left the couple's life.

Over the years, Xinjiang dance has quietly become popular in other cities of China. On the square and in the park, Xinjiang folk music can be heard. But the Barat couple didnt think it was popular enough. "Sometimes we pass by the park and see a lot of people dancing wearing Xinjiang's ethnic costumes. If they change their clothes, you can't tell what kind of dance they are dancing," Hawagvl said.

People recognized that the couple came from Xinjiang, so they would invite them to dance. The husband and wife would never refuse. So, with a smile and a gesture, two authentic Xinjiang dancers started dancing. Month and year, people danced with them, some would invite them do a performance, while some would come from other cities to learn dance from them. Without notice, the two already have a huge number of fans. Then the gears of fate began to turn, and they came to Xi'an.

Dance in Xi'an

The best time for selling dried fruits is winter. In 2017, Barat's dried fruit business in Shanghai was completely handed over to his brother. A call from a friend in Xi'an changed the trajectory of the couple's lives. "A big brother invited us to Xi'an to teach the locals Xinjiang dance during the summer, guaranteeing us 150 students." Barat said, "We thought it was a good thing, so we came."

However, things did not go as expected. After going to Xi'an, the couple found no students as promised. They stayed in Xi'an for a month, there were still no students. "We couldn't just go back like this and got laughed at." "I discussed with my wife and decided to do it myself. The population of Xi'an was large. There was no way we couldnt find students."

On August 16, 2017, the couples dance class began, and a week later, the classroom was full. Since then, more and more people have danced with the couple, and together with students they taught in school, they have more than 20,000 students.

Photo shows after class, Hawagvl Kurban chats with the students in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/Xie Long

Photo shows Barat Osman teaches students how to dance in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/Xie Long

The couple's dance teaching begins with an understanding of Xinjiang dance. Hawagvl expresses the characteristics of Xinjiang dance with her moves. For square dance, parks and squares are the most important occasions. In a small square at the east gate of the Xi'an City Wall, Hawagvl let people know about Xinjiang dance.

Dressed in traditional Uygur costumes, Hawagvl is often invited to dance, and she never refuses as long as the other is polite. "There are many types of Xinjiang dances including Uygur dance, Kirgiz dance, Tajik dance, Kazak dance, etc., each with its own characteristics. But there is one thing they have in common, that is, all dances conveys a message of equality and respect. As long as someone invites me, I receive their respect, and I must also respect others. When the music plays, there are only dancers on the stage," Hawagvl said.

Photo shows Hawagvl with dance learners in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/Xie Long

Once, twice, keep dancing. People begins to know more about Xinjiang dance, and have gradually developed trust in the Barat couple. Those who sign up soon realize that they are learning much more than just dance, but Xinjiang's colorful ethnic cultures.

"From the etiquette of inviting dance partners to the proper way of dressing, from the gestures of dancing to the wearing styles of various hats, from the rotation of footsteps to the diverse appellations for different rhythms, Mr. and Mrs. Barat, who are well-versed in dance movements of Xinjiang dances, pass on knowledge to all students both online and offline."

Hawagvl always exudes a graceful temperament, as if there is nothing in this world that can make her lose her cultivation. "I have been studying with Hawagvl for more than a year, and I have never seen her get angry." Gao Baohong, a student, said, "The tuition fee being 1800 yuan a year is very cheap in the dance circle, but she teaches more patiently and seriously than anyone."

The couple marveled at the changes in the image of Xinjiang peoplein the country over the years, and in thousands of days and nights, they themselves have actually contributed to it. "It was by learning to dance with Mr. and Mrs. Barat that I really got to know Xinjiang people. They are warmhearted, kind, and honest, andthey deserve a big thumbs up!" Gao Bozhang, a native of Baoding, Hebei Province, saw Barat's live broadcast on the Internet and specially came to Xi'an to learn from them, "I didnt really know how to dance Xinjiang dance before, but now I dance really well.

"Authentic dance moves are what distinguish the students of Mr. and Mrs. Barat from other dancers. Even for amateurs like us, it is evident when their students perform. "It's because we emphasize cultural understanding before teaching dance. Knowing how to do a movement is the 'technique,' but understanding why we do it that way is the 'spirit.' With this spirit and the understanding, their movements naturally become authentic,' said Hawagvl. In her home in Xi'an, there is a room dedicated to storing dance costumes, hats, and accessories and each piece was carefully selected. In this room, she also does livestreaming where she would have thousands of viewers."

I like Xinjiang for a reason

"Come on! On September 19, in the dance studio of the Shaanxi Barat Xiangfei Cultural and Art Center, the female students on the sidelines were booing and laughing at the male students that were dancing.

Female student Zhao Qiuyu danced a male dance energetically. The couple selects suitable dance styles for the students based on their specific situations. Mr Barat said I am suitable for male dances, and it turns out to be true.' Whenever she has time, Zhao Qiuyu will come to the dance studio, often spending the whole day there even on her days off. She dance so much that Barat had to remind her to take it easy and not hurt her knees. I just love Xinjiang dance so much that I cant help myself.

It is not only Zhao Qiuyu who is hooked by the soul, but also Su Xiuying, who lives in Weinan City, Shaanxi Province, would drive hundreds of kilometers 5 days a week, traveling between Xi'an and Weinan, just to learn Xinjiang dance with Hawagul. In 2018, Su Xiuying came to Xinjiang by car and saw local people dancing in Narat. "I loved the dance, but I couldnt dance at the time. I just dance following my feelings, and no one laughed at me. I fell in love with Xinjiang all of a sudden and with Xinjiang dance." said Su Xiuying, dressed in a specially tailored Uygur costume, looking like a Xinjiang girl.

"People dance various types of dances, except from Xinjiang dance, but I have a special affection for Xinjiang dance. I have a big mirror at home, I would dance in front of the mirror when I have nothing to do, and record a video and send it to Hawagvl, and she will instruct me in detail. Liu Min has studied with Hawagvl for 4 years and is already a very skilled Xinjiang dancer.

"Why Xinjiang dance?" We asked. "Xinjiang dance expresses passion, conveys the idea of equality and looks elegant. When you dance, you feel passionate, and there is no physical contact with your dance partner, so for people like me in their fifties and sixties, Xinjiang dance is a proper expression of emotion. And it can also serve as a way of exercising. I can now dance Uygur dance, Tajik dance, and Uzbek dance," said Su Xiuying.

Photo shows in the East Gate Square in Xi'an, people dance Xinjiang dance. Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/Xie Long

People sing and dance with love and a yearning for Xinjiang in their hearts. At the request of the dance learners, Mr. and Mrs. Barat began to take people to Xinjiang in a group trip. People come to their homes in Hami, taste grapes and roast whole lamb, linger in the Erdaoqiao area in Urumqi, and celebrate with the local people in the ancient city of Kashgar. In their bags, they did not bring much of their daily clothes, but their dancing clothes. "Wherever you dance, you feel like you are a local. In Xinjiang, dance is the best language," Liu Min said.

The stable and prosperous Xinjiang has given the couple great self-confidence. "A few days ago, when we were in Turpan, a student left her wallet and ID card in the taxi, and she was anxious. I told her to not worry. After a while, the taxi driver delivered her things to us intact and left. Hawagvl recalled the incident with a smile on her face, "People like Xinjiang for a reason. ”

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