When the Zakhchin and the tribes of Western Mongolia dance their folk dances ("bij" - "bielgee"), they mainly move the upper part of the body. With their movements they express their identity and gender as well as their tribal and ethnic affiliation. Besides the gender-specific movements, there are others that imitate typical activities of their everyday life, such as the nomadic herdsmen's life, the daily work in the fields or the historical events of their tribe. This kind of dance is mainly performed during celebrations inside the ger (round tents), during festivals of the local nobility or during ceremonies in the monasteries.
Every tribe has its particular forms of expression, e.g.:
- the Dörbed and the Torguts accompany their dances with dance songs;
- the Buryats dance in a circle, always moving in the direction of the sun; a solo singer improvises pairs of verses followed by the chorus singing the refrain;
- the Bayad dance with their knees bent outwards, balancing on them mugs filled with sour mare-milk (airag).
- the Dörbed balance mugs filled with airag on their heads and hands.
Twisted, distorted “snaky people,” or contortionists, perform the type of classical Mongolian dancing probably most familiar to people outside Mongolia. The “Biyelgee” dance, or dance of the body, is particular to the people of western Mongolia. It is performed to the music of Mongolian national musical instruments, such as the morin khuur (horse head fiddle) and theyochin (similar to the xylophone.) Biyelgee is traditionally performed on the rather limited space before the hearth, so the dancers make practically no use of their feet. Instead, the dancers principally use only the upper part of their bodies, and through their rhythmic movements express various aspects of their identities, such as sex, tribe, and ethnic group.
Dances imitating the gait of a horse, such as the Chonon khar and Jalam khar, are in general very popular amongst the Derbets, Bayads, Torguts, Khotons and Zakhchins of western Mongolia. Each nationality, however, performs them in its own way. The Bayads, for instance, dance on half-bent legs, with the lower part of the body motionless. The Zakhchins squat as they dance, with the body inclined forward. The ability to dance without using one’s feet at all is the ultimate achievement in the art.