Karakalpak dance has its own defining characteristics. Moods and feelings are expressed through the movements of the dance itself. It is characterized by trembling body movements, including masterly foot movements, sophisticated and complex ornamental hand movements, as well as unusual moves of the head and shoulders.
In the XIX century, Persian diplomat Rizakuli Mirza visited the Khanate of Khiva. During his journey he observed and described local people. He emphasized that all Karakalpaks, especially men, love dancing during festivities. When Karakalpak men dance, the spectator is filled with the energy of the dance. The power of the male sound accompaniments – khu and kha – not only encourage the dancers but also excite the audience, increasing the heartrate and energy levels.
In the XX century Karakalpak folk dance reached the professional level and dancers began to perform it on stage. A great number of choreographic performances, such as Aykulash (Moonlight), Shagala (Seagull), Aral djigitleri (Djigits from Aral), Shopanlar (Shepherds), Karauy (Yurta), Kiyiz basu (Felting), Suygabargan kiz (The girl who came to get some water), and others are associated with ethnographic concepts – ritual, ceremonial and emotional activities typical of Karakalpak people.
For example, the choreographic performance of Felting reflects the process of felt mat production. Although the dance is based on illustrated labour movements that almost completely repeat the genuine labour process, it turned out very poetic.
The Aykulash dance on the contrary demonstrates a folk tradition of youth moonlight night festivals, when people fall in love for the first time.