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Kyrgyz dancer Atai Omurzakov inspires youth
Electric boogaloo dancing wins young hearts in Kyrgyzstan
By Asyl Osmonaliyeva
BISHKEK – Kyrgyz youth are taking to a style of dance called electric-boogaloo (electric boogie), inspired by one of their own, Atai Omurzakov, a 21-year-old TV dance celebrity in Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
Electric-boogaloo is a style of funk and hip-hop dancing with fluid movement of the limbs, but in the case of Omurzakov, it is also punctuated by robot-like stop-action movements with long pauses set to electronic music.
Omurzakov has inspired youth with his own unique style and moves, which helped him to win November’s “Česko Slovensko Má Talent,” a televised Czech-Slovak talent contest. He earned €100,000 (6.1m KGS) and an invitation to compete in Las Vegas.
“Atai showed Europe a different Kyrgyzstan – gifted, original and unique,” said Zhyldyz Redlova, an ethnic Kyrgyz who lives in the Czech Republic and went to watch the show. “I was so proud of Atai and my home country! Of course, much depends on his charisma – his number wouldn’t be so brilliant if he didn’t have romantic fragility written all over him.”
Omurzakov said, upon returning from Bratislava, that he is glad to set an example for other Kyrgyz youth. He even became a topic of discussion in parliament in late November, as MPs debated a project to assist young talent.
The deputies cited Omurzakov as an example and said a fund should be created to subsidise young talents and provide them with more opportunities to develop.
“Omurzakov’s example inspired my son,” said Ainura Ibrayeva, mother of 21-year-old Zholdosh from Karabalta. Zholdosh had no friends and used to spend all his leisure time in his room playing video games and searching on the internet.
“Last year he saw a few videos of Atai on YouTube and told me he also wants to dance. He enrolled in dancing school and found new friends.”
Dancing activities are a good way to expend the great potential energy that youth have, Bishkek high school psychologist Shirin Rysaliyeva said. “It’s important that this energy isn’t directed to negative directions, such as extremism, criminal activities, drugs. Dancing can help.”
Omurzakov’s dancing videos sell well, Kanybek Kerimov, an Osh market trader, said. “Mostly youth buy these DVDs to learn the dancing steps,” he said.
Egam, 18, a Kara-Balta College, said he used to consider dancing a hobby, but recently he has started performing in student concerts and is working on his style, although his main number replicates Omurzakov’s dancing manner.
“I like Atai’s flexibility and want to learn to move like him,” he said. “But I’d like to develop my own style, so I download other dancers’ videos, borrow the best elements and a certain mixture is the result.”
“Many have now taken to dancing like Atai,” Ulukbek, a young dancer, said. “When I decided to open a dancing school, the college director assigned a room and let me use the music equipment. I give dancing classes three times a week.”
Ainura Bermetova, 16, said her parents encourage her enthusiasm for dancing and allow her to attend Ulukbek’s classes.
“They wanted me to study ballroom dancing, but I like Atai’s style – it’s so modern and beautiful,” she said.
The youngest dance school pupil, Bakyt, 10, does not know much about style, but said, “I want to dance like Atai!”
Electric boogie and break dancing are the newest fad among his peers. Rustam Vakilov, 17, a student at Bishkek University for the Humanities, said.
“Honestly, what really grabbed me about this victory was not even Atai’s talent but the €100,000 prize he got,” he said. “It’s great to think you can earn such big money by your talent, and that you don’t have to have rich and influential relatives to be a success. Atai made us believe in our own powers.”