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One Step At A Time: Learning To Dance In Turkmenistan

It's party time again in Turkmenistan. The gas-rich desert nation is set to celebrate its independence on October 27 with a mass dance and military parade in the capital, Ashgabat. But not just any dancing or marching will do.

Students and state employees have been taking part in compulsory dance and parade training since mid-September. Here, students rehearse in the eastern city of Turkmenabad in Lebap Province.
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Students and state employees have been taking part in compulsory dance and parade training since mid-September. Here, students rehearse in the eastern city of Turkmenabad in Lebap Province.

School and universities dismiss classes from midday to 3 o'clock every afternoon so that students can take part in training sessions in nearby stadiums.
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School and universities dismiss classes from midday to 3 o'clock every afternoon so that students can take part in training sessions in nearby stadiums.

After the children exit, the stadiums -- like this one in the capital, Ashgabat -- are filled again by office workers, who practice their mass dance routines until evening.
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After the children exit, the stadiums -- like this one in the capital, Ashgabat -- are filled again by office workers, who practice their mass dance routines until evening.

After initial preparations in provincial towns and cities, all participants will be taken to Ashgabat on October 10 for two more weeks of final training.
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After initial preparations in provincial towns and cities, all participants will be taken to Ashgabat on October 10 for two more weeks of final training.

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