Joy of Dancing: Kazakh Folk Dance Kara Zhorga

Now that's great I spend every day a lot of time browsing through youtube and call it "research" ... My new love is a Kazakh folk dance called Kara Zhorga (Qara Jorğa - K'ara Zhorg'a - Қара Жорға). It has been nominated for inscription in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
One first example is a TV version featuring boys and girls in national garments:

 From the description (read full text here):

... According to A.Ismailov “Kara-Zhorga is a dance that embodies a variety of nuances and techniques. It combines bellicosity and buffoonery, tender pace and mobility, speed and calm grace” [...] Kara-Zhorga dance reproduces a picture of a traditional horse competition called bayge. "... Traditionally village residents gather for a feast (called “toy” in Kazakh). Young and cheerful horsemen step out from the crowd and start dancing - bending their bodies slightly forward, harshly swinging with their whips and eagerly entering in rhythmic competition. Young horsemen move in circles, lines and diagonals, out run each other, demonstrating agility of a leap or an intricate hop. The dance imitates horserace – rhythmically sharp-cut hops from one foot to another and big leaps with curving of a body compose major dance technique. A sharp-cut, rough and springy folk tune of Kara-Zhorga dance and the movement that coincides with the horserace rhythm, gracefully merge into a single image of bold horsemen – called “zhigit” in Kazakh, who master equestrian skills with their finger tips” (Sarynova, 1976: 37).
National dress
Overall the dance shows the agility skills and cheerful enthusiasm of a horseman who fully masters the art of riding a horse. [...]

The first notes of Kara-Zhorga dance were taken by artist and choreographer Aubakir Ismailov in 1928 during the meeting with Akhtai Mamanov, chief of amateur-talent group based at Kazkomuna boarding school in Petropavlovsk (city in northern Kazakhstan). [...]

In the pictures are some contemporary national Kazakh costumes; how can you not love those oodles of fluffiness, ruffles and trumpet sleeves?

Performers in traditional Kazakhstan costume 
Nowadays the dance is often performed at big social gatherings, celebration of festive events and even as a flashmob.

And some words about the spiritual meaning of the dance from the same document:

Researchers pay particular attention to initial sacral meaning of Kara-Zhorga, for the dance was mostly performed during “Shildekhana” ritual (feast in the name of newborn). Therefore Kara-Zhorga performance is closely linked with the time of child’s first initiation to the World, his/her acquaintance with the family and surrounding society. This period of human life along with the spiritual initiation and obsequies played most important role in nomadic culture.
Performing Kara-Zhorga for a newborn child aimed at introducing him/her with nomadic lifestyle, life on top of a horse. The tempo of the dance is sought to transmit the nomad’s main attitude to the reality of life; it sets up principal direction for future life of a newborn – meaning the way forward despite the obstacles, way of optimism and mobility. Moreover, performanc e of Kara-Zhorga bears purification and protective properties for both the child and the audience present. Appearing as a ritual and spiritual act, Kara-Zhorga gradually started to inherit characteristics of every day life. Owing to its deep semantic and symbolic meaning, Kara-Zhorga has been very popular among people over a long period of time, gradually acquiring new distinctive properties and styles.
Nowadays, Kara-Zhorga dance embodies the brightest features of Kazakh people and modern Kazakhstan, like – courage, vitality, musicality and mobility harmoniously intertwined with the scenery of beautiful and vast steppes. 

The whole thing looks like lots of fun if danced in a group among friends. On a more artistic level Kazakh ethnic dance presents all the finesse of Oriental stage dances with opulent costumes, delicate hand movements and hazardous backbends, as featured it this video by the magical Uighur dancer Dilnar Abdullah:


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