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Young acrobats inject energy into tightrope walking

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-12 07:15
Nurman Guli walks on a tightrope wearing high heels. The girl might be the only tightrope walker in high heels in Xinjiang. [Photo/Xinhua]

URUMQI - Nurman Guli wears sneakers most of the time - except when she is walking on a tightrope wearing high heels.

The 16-year-old acrobat might be the only tightrope walker in high heels in Xinjiang.

Tightrope walking is known as Dawazi in Xinjiang, and it is believed to have been performed for about 2,000 years.

Traditional Dawazi performers walk on a tightrope made of grass, 15 to 21 meters above the ground, without wearing a safety harness or any protective equipment.

Dawazi was given national intangible cultural heritage status in China in 2006.

"There is no one who can perform Dawazi wearing high heels like me," Guli says.

On 8-cm high heels, Guli can walk on a Dawazi, which is only about 3 cm in diameter.

"Walking on a 21-meter-high tightrope with high heels is more difficult than I thought at the beginning," she says. It took her almost a year to perfect the art.

Guli does not think performing Dawazi in high heels is different from wearing normal shoes, though it does require better control of her center of gravity.

Unlike steel wire, the Dawazi grass rope is softer, making it more difficult to balance on.

For Ayishahim Mamatmin, Guli's acrobatics teacher, the girl is the most talented and hard-working student in her school.

"Guli has an excellent sense of balance," she says.

Guli, who has been practicing Dawazi for more than 10 hours each day since she was 12, says: "I practice every day so I am ready all the time."

Guli is not alone in trying to do something unique.

Gulipia Ghilili, a 12-year-old Dawazi acrobat, can perform ballet steps on the tightrope.

"I want to be the first ballet dancer on the tightrope," she says.

Both girls are students at a Dawazi school in Yengisar county, which was launched by Adili Wuxor, who is in the seventh generation of a Dawazi family in Xinjiang.

Adili has several records in the Guinness World Records organization.

"My students are the future of Dawzai, and undoubtedly they will surpass me some day," says Adili.

After having performed Dawazi in big cities such as Shanghai and Xiamen, Guli dreams of performing on a bigger stage.

"I want to perform Dawazi in big events like the Olympic Games."

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