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Troupe takes root in prairie

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-26 07:21

Troupe takes root in prairie

Members of the Togtoh Ulan Muqir from Togtoh county prepare for a performance at a grazing site in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region.[Photo/Xinhua]

Songs and dances reflecting the herdsman's life entertain those living in Inner Mongolia's remotest areas

It was the middle of the afternoon, but the herdsmen stopped their work and gathered for the arrival of the Ulan Muqir, or Red Bud Troupe.

Ulan Muqir is the Mongolian name for a troupe that travels from one grazing site to another, performing for herdsmen who live in some of China's most remote areas. Since it was formed in 1957 in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, generations of performers have sung and danced for herdsmen and taken root in the prairie.

This time, Ulan Muqir was set to perform in Xar Moron township in Inner Mongolia's Chifeng.

"I am so excited that they have finally come. Ulan Muqir's performances are my favorite," said Tumendelger, a herdsmen.

Yilan, 83, a first-generation Ulan Muqir performer, still remembers when the first Ulan Muqir formed.

"It was June 17, 1957. We gave our first performance in the Sunite Right Banner in Xilingol League. So many herdsmen came to watch our performance. The blue sky was our curtain and the grassland our stage," she said. "The herdsmen were so happy-they sang and danced with us and didn't want to leave."

According to Yilan, as herdsmen lived in prairies far from the city, they did not have books, newspapers or radios, or access to folk art.

"But they had the need, and that was why we formed the first Ulan Muqir," she said. "At that time, we only had a gramophone, two gas lamps, several musical instruments and a few costumes."

Yilan said that nine members of the troupe traveled more than 3,000 kilometers in the following two months, bringing over 30 performances to herdsmen living deep in the prairies.

The troupe rode horses in summer and camels in winter.

"The road was often very bumpy," she said. "Despite the difficulties, we all felt very happy as the herdsmen and us were like a family. They treated us just like their children, with hospitality and the best food they had."

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