ASTANA – A debut animated series, “Dala Shyrqauy” (The Field Song), produced by Tasqyn Studio, brought to light the story of Kurmangazy, a prominent Kazakh composer and dombra player, whose 200th anniversary is celebrated across Kazakhstan this year. The first episode premiered on March 16 on the Tasqyn Studio Youtube channel.
The series offers a glimpse into the diverse stories of Kurmangazy through his kuis (traditional music compositions) and highlights the vast range of his artistic styles that convey the experiences of Kazakh people living in the 19th century.
The first season of “Dala Shyrqauy” will feature 13 episodes three to five minutes long. The creators promise a new series every two weeks.
Each episode will focus on the story of a single kui to convey the complexities, hardships, and wisdom of Kurmangazy’s life.
In recognition of Kurmangazy’s cultural heritage, the team intends to immortalize his accomplishments by capturing the turning points of his life through a visual and sound narrative.
The series incorporates both fiction and historical facts, making sure to accurately depict clothing, environment, and context of that time.
“Books are the main source in the creation of the project. Tremendous support was provided by Kazakh composer Abylai Tilepbergen, who told us a lot about the great composer and showed relevant materials. We then studied data relevant to the 19th century. Essentially, we tried not to deviate from history,” said Sanzhar Zhussup, the series’ art director, in his interview with Jibek Joly TV channel.
In the first episode, the animation covers the adventures and wanderings of kuishi (performer of kuis) Uzaq, who would become the first teacher of Kurmangazy. It depicts a young Kurmangazy surprising Uzaq with his ability to instantly repeat one of his kuis. Uzaq taught the young talent everything he knew, including styles and techniques, blessing him to become a prominent kuishi.
The series are not just snapshots of history, they also represent the daily life of the Kazakh people, said Albert Argenstein, the head of Tasqyn Studio.
“The word kui, translated from Kazakh, means mood or vibe. Each of these compositions conveys the feelings of both the akyn (performer) and the people. Our animated series tells the stories of these kuis – how they lived, died, played, and fought. Animation can visually convey what you imagine in your head while listening to these kuis,” Argenstein said.
Producers say the animated series will raise the bar for animated movies in the region.
“We want to bring the production of animations in Kazakhstan to a new level. Therefore, our staff are among the most talented and creative artists from all over Kazakhstan. They have a lot of expertise and experience in creating animated films and series,” they said.
The team of 75 young specialists is now working on four animation projects.
“We are all united by the same idea, that we discover and show our culture, our origins, opening the pages of history, making them understandable and interesting not only for future generations but also for people today,” say the creators on their website.
The studio plans to release a series on the adventures of a famous folklore character Aldar Kose, dubbed the Kazakh Robin Hood, and a detective story called “Naparnik” (Partner) inspired by the cult films in the neo-noir genre.
“We want to show people in our country and abroad how rich the culture of Kazakhstan is, to increase the importance of our history, to strengthen patriotism and love for our traditions,” they say.
The producers are also preparing material for the second season. It will include animated stories about other famous Kazakh dombra players, such as Dina Nurpeissova, Sugir, Dauletkerei, and Kazangap.
“Other parallel projects that we are working on aim to present characters from Kazakh legends, fairy tales, and folklore, thus promoting them not only on Kazakh television but also abroad, particularly in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States,” Argenstein told Jibek Joly TV channel.