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Legendary Lyazgi

On December 12, 2019 legendary Lyazgi dance was included into the Representative List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO as an element of cultural heritage of Uzbekistan. Uzbek dances are an ancient tradition of the people. Dance art began to emerge in antiquity as a part of ritual activities. Moreover in the middle Ages the dance was an integral part of Eastern culture. The Uzbek dance is very expressive, hand movements and bright facial expressions prevail in it. Sometimes it is even compared with pantomime. The whole philosophy of dance is to express feelings: joy, sadness last but not least love. Prior to start of the dance, the Uzbek dancers traditionally hold their hands to the heart, and then extend their arms to the sky, as if to say that everything “comes from the heart.” There are 3 schools in classical dance which can be distinguished: Khorezm, Ferghana and Bukhara.
The Khorezm School is distinguished by originality of movements and expression. The movements of many dances are based on imitation of fauna – dance of pigeons, ground squirrels, goats, cats, cock and mutton fights, dance of pheasants, goose, quail and seagulls. Dancers even mimic the sounds of animals.
Many dance elements of this region are associated with circus art, where the masters of “aerobatics” dance with fire, knives, or on a rope. The most expressive and famous Khorezm dances are rightfully considered to be “Lyazgi”, “Dance on a Plate” and “Dance of Broken Fingers”. The last one is connected with the ancient legend of the king’s concubine, who once fell severely and broke her fingers. In order not to upset her beloved she danced without flexing her fingers. The king was very pleased taking the girl’s strange movements for a new dance. Now it is one of the most popular Khorezm dance styles.
Moreover there are satirical dances that tell about professions (dance of a fisherman, baker, hairdresser, cook, shepherds) in Khorezm School. In such dances, not a profession is ridiculed however a specific person does.
Unusual and different are characterized the dance costumes. An integral part of the men’s Khorezm dance costume is a rough fur hat – hat, and the female headdress on the contrary is very elegant. Costumes of dancers are decorated with numerous coins.
The Ferghana school is characterized by softness, smoothness and expressiveness of movements, an easy sliding step, original movements in place and hands extended upwards, “speaking movements” and pantomime elements. Besides, improvisation is often allowed in the dances of Ferghana region as a great emphasis is placed on emotions and feelings in this school.
A lot of dance compositions are real miniature performances, scenes illustrating various events in the life of a young girl – for example, bitter separation from a beloved one, or a variety of everyday situations: picking cotton, creating silk fabric, baking flat cakes etc.
One of the most popular dances in Ferghana Valley is Tanovar. The word “Tanovar” consists of two parts – “tan – body or soul, “ovar” – pleasure, that is, “pleasure of the soul”. Each movement of this dance is an expression of the female soul, narrating about her love.
The Bukhara school unites the dancing traditions of Bukhara and Samarkand. There are also comic and circus elements. The movements are sharper, sometimes even more like gymnastic in these dances, very often there is shaking of the shoulders with tilts forward and backward and falling to the knees.
The flexibility of the dancers is simply amazing, and the play of the face adds passion to any dance. The most famous dances of Bukhara school are considered to be “Zamin Bozi””, “Larzon” and “Sarizon Bozi”, where complex movements and very bright facial expressions are performed.
Unlike classical, Bukhara folk dances are characterized by smooth movements and the use of Asian stone castanets – “kairok”, which support the rhythm of the dance. In fact, “kairok” resembles two flat pebbles. This instrument is an integral part of Bukhara folk dance.
Folk dances of each region are distinguished by its manner of performance, costume and musical accompaniment. Each folklore dance is a performance in which the dancer talks about the culture, history and life of his region. The cut of their costumes is simple, however the colors of the fabric and large ornaments attract the eye. The dances are so contagious that it is impossible to resist and not to start to dance!