Between the artist and the audience: A look at NYUAD Arts Centre's spring programme

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What is the audience’s role in live performances? When Bill Bragin, executive director of the NYUAD Arts Centre, arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2014, he was on a mission to bring performance art to the city. Not just any performance art, however – performance art that challenged its audience, excelled in its field and pushed the boundaries of the genre itself. This season’s performances at NYUAD Arts Centre are no different.

The programme consists of an eclectic mix of artists, all of whom have built their careers by making engaging art that encourages audience participation. Bragin says the local community is primed to embrace the unknown, something which he wanted to reflect in the centre’s programming.

"The Emirati community has embraced this incredibly dynamic pace of change," Bragin tells The National. "Everybody who's here who is an expat has come from somewhere else. And they've taken that chance to leave their home and come to the UAE for whatever the opportunity that's in front of them."

Host Razmig Bedirian, culture writer at The National, is joined by Bragin to talk about the upcoming events in the Arts Centre spring programme. The duo are joined by Kid Koala, one of the artists in the 2020 programme. Kid Koala first gained recognition as a scratch DJ in the early 2000s working with bands like The Gorillaz and making scores for Hollywood movies. In this episode, he talks about The Storyville Mosquito, a live puppet show he is bringing to Abu Dhabi.

Another musician to make the season's cut is Kaki King. Described by Rolling Stone magazine as a genre unto herself, she joins the podcast to talk about her ever-evolving creative process.

Later on in the episode, Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Myers join to talk about their show, Cartography. Inspired by stories of migrant youth in Munich, Germany, Cartography aims to bring the experience of migration to a wider audience.

Finally, we take a look at art that challenges preconceptions within society. Hailing from a small town in Ethiopia, Bichu runs the Circus Abyssinia company with his brother. He joins the show to talk about the journey into circus life.