Dancers perform at the Magic of Dance International Dance Festival in Uzbekistan. Photo: Xu Liuliu/GT

Khiva, one of the historical ancient cities in Central Asia’s Uzbekistan, has been turned into a global stage for dance performances from all over the world with the opening of the annual International Dance Festival – Magic of Dance at the State Museum-Reserve Ichan-Kala on Sunday. 

“Dance is an art form that can travel across borders and over language barriers,” Temur I. Davletov, deputy governor of the Khorezm Region where Khiva is located, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

“The festival will see artists bring their presentations from all over the country and a number of foreign countries,” he said. 

“We hope to popularize the national dances from around the world as well as further develop tourism in our country.”

Open-air museum 

Approximately 100 dancers from 20 countries and regions including Indonesia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan will perform across the old city of Khiva during the three-day festival. 

There is a local saying in Uzbekistan that goes “I would pay a bag of gold to get a glimpse of Khiva.” This shows that even centuries ago, Khiva was well-known for its beauty. In 1990, the city’s complex Ichan-Kala was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

Together with Samarkand and Bukhara, Khiva brings in millions of overseas travelers to the country to enjoy its bountiful cultural heritage. 

The well-planned and defensible ancient complex includes four gates and a number of historical buildings such as the Djuma Mosque, Oq Mosque and the Mausoleum of Pahlavon Mahmoud. The sheer amount of history on display transports visitors to a time more than 2,000 years ago. 

Not just dance 

The culture on display at the festival is not limited to dance, there are also master classes on baking traditional Khorezm bread, exhibitions on traditional clothing, a photo exhibition as well as puppet shows. 

The festival is a great opportunity for overseas travelers to learn about Uzbekistan’s intangible cultural heritage. 

“Our national cultural heritage, art, national values and traditions will be presented, in particular, the best examples of dance, crafts and applied art, as well as culinary traditions from different regions of the country,” he added.

Additionally, the festival will also award the best dance troupes at the end of the festival at a gala concert.

As one of the world’s largest outbound markets, Chinese travelers have always been welcome in Uzbekistan. Starting on January 1, 2020, the Uzbekistan government will implement a visa-free policy for travelers from China including the Hong Kong SAR, reported by Uzbekistan media on Thursday. Chinese travelers will be able to visit visa-free for seven days, plenty of time to visit some of the country’s most well-known cultural heritages. 

According to a report from China’s People’s Daily, Uzbekistan has received about 33,000 Chinese travelers so far this year, with final totals predicted to reach 50,000 travelers by the end of the year. 

Temur said that Chinese travelers are always welcome in Khiva and noted that he has traveled to many Chinese cities including Shenzhen and Tianjin to promote local tourism. 

The festival will involve more Chinese dancers as well as attract more travelers in the upcoming years.