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Maria Mukhlaeva, About Dances



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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Maria talks about Kalmyk dances and compares how Kalmyks behaved in the past and today. This is what she says: Men, both old and young, stomp their feet when they dance tavshur (the word derives from tavshkh meaning ‘to stomp’). When dancers swing from one foot to the other, this dance is called mulzhur. People also sing with the dombra instrument. During a dance, girls walk smoothly and lift their hands slowly. Old people also lift their hands slowly during a Kalmyk dance. In the past, women wore dresses called tsegdg or berz. Children also wore traditional dresses and danced mulzhur. Old films show how children danced. Modern dances have incorporated only a small part of traditional dances. In the past, people showed respect to elders. Older women were addressed as gaga, nagts egch, avg bergn, but today only as ‘auntie’. In the past, women never got in men’s way. When men talked to each other, women never cut into their conversation. At home women always wore a headscarf and a dress with long sleeves, and never went barefoot. Today, by contrast, women quarrel with men and lecture them. Our elders followed traditions. In our childhood when we ended up in Siberia our mind and soul became Russian, although we looked Kalmyk. That is why today not all people follow traditions. Kalmyk traditions are being forgotten. Kalmyks from China come to visit us. We also travel to Mongolia. In these countries people still live how our ancestors lived. But we are already half-Kalmyk, half-Russian.



Dances, tradition, rules, Siberia, identity

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.