A season to celebrate at NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Centre

Innovative dance performances, concert adventures inspired by classic American literature and the Barzakh Festival, here are the highlights of not-to-miss performances of the new season

South Korea’s Bereishit Dance Company will perform as part of the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Season. Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi
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New York Abu Dhabi Arts Centre has announced its fourth season, featuring a tasteful and eclectic selection of music, theatre and dance events.

Beginning on September 5 and running until late April, performances that are part of the event's nine-month season will be staged across the university's campus.

Promoted with the theme of Connection, Community and Excellence, the programme aims to explore the ties between artistic disciplines and cultures and provide a platform for the next generation of international artists.

“Whether a celebratory concert or a ground-breaking theatre piece, kinetic dance performance or a heart tugging film, the Arts Centre creates shared memories for the people of the UAE, opens important conversation and showcases some of the best the world has to offer,” explains artistic director Bill Bragin.

“This year, we have some truly exceptional artists
pushing the boundaries of their style. That truly speaks of the excellence in the connection that we are trying to make this season.”

As well as staging an epic stage version of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and a collaborative performance featuring multi-Grammy award-winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill, the season will also involve the return of popular music events including the Barzakh Festival, this year featuring Afro Beat star Seun Kuti and the NYU Abu Dhabi music showcase Manifold. Cinema lovers will also welcome back the Imagine Science Film Festival.

Here are highlights from the programme:

September: ‘Dance’ by the Lucinda Childs Dance Company

This startling and experimental multi-media dance production were here last year when they performed as part of the celebrations marking the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi. Those who missed out can experience them again   with the regional debut of their landmark multi-media production Dance at the Red Theatre on September 5 and 6. Choreographed by veteran and influential choreographer Lucinda Childs with music composed by Philip Glass, 11 dancers will take the stage as they interact with the minimal visual backdrop of Sol Le Witt's 1979 film of the original performance.

September: ‘Gatz’ will be an epic night of theatre

It's one thing to binge watch television, but it is quite another to undertake the same experience for a live stage performance. On September 21, 22 and 24 strap in – and make sure you are comfortable – for Gatz, the critically acclaimed eight-hour production of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby. The show will be spread over four acts with a dinner break as all the key themes and nuances of the great 1925 literary work will be examined in this in-depth production by the US stage ensemble Elevator Repair Service.

February: Arturo O’Farrill’s big orchestra sound

Throughout its seasons, the Arts Centre has provided an invaluable service to the UAE's music scene through its adventurous programming of concerts. This season will be no different with the arrival of Arturo O'Farrill. The Cuban-American pianist will first lead his celebrated Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra for what is set to be a scintillating concert on February 14 (a fine Valentine's Day gift) of classic cross-cultural Latin jazz meets Arabic music performance at the university's East Plaza.

Then, on February 20, O’Farrill and his group will take to the Red Theatre Stage as part of a cross-cultural mambo performance featuringKuwait’s Ghazi-al Mulaifi’s Folkloric Ensemble, British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and French-Moroccan jazz singer Malika Zarra.

September: A Tribe Called Red’s indie sounds

Indie music lovers should not miss the September 12 and 13 gigs by A Tribe Called Red, the Canadian trio whose music is an intoxicating blend of hip-hop beats, dubstep and reggae. They will make their regional debut on the back of their acclaimed third album We Are The Halluci Nation, which featured slots by hip-hop luminary Yassin Bey and Iraqi-Canadian rapper Narcy. They will share the stage at The Black Box with Beirut's Love and Revenge, a collaboration between Lebanese hip-hop stalwart Rayess Bek and the visual artist Randa Mirza.

November and February: diverse dance offerings

The season boasts a strong selection of dance performances. South Korea's Bereishit Dance Company will take over the Red Stage on November 28 and 29 with their acrobatic performances blending contemporary dance and martial arts. British dance star Wayne McGregor will bring his company to the same venue on February 7 and 8 for Autobiography, a performance with choreography based on McGregor's genomic sequence.

March: Barzakh announces the return of favourites

The new Arts Centre season will include the return of staples such as the Barzakh Festival. After last year's success, when the festival was headlined by Palestine's electro-dabke group 47 Soul and punk music stars The Ex, Barzakh returns next year on March 6 and March 8 at The East Plaza with the first-day headliner being the mighty Sean Kuti, the musical heir of the late Fela Kuti, the band leader who is widely credited as the originator of the Afro-beat music genre. The younger Kuti will arrive in the capital leading his father's big band Egypt 80 as they demonstrate the genre's signature blend of heaving bass lines and triumphant brass.

They will be joined by Alsarah & the Nubatones, the Brooklyn, New York-based group whose sound has been hailed as “East-African retro-pop”. The headliners of the second night of Barzakh Festival will be announced later in the year.

Also returning is Manifold, with a line-up from the NYU Abu Dhabi Music Programme held at the Black Box and The Blue Hall from March 31 to April 4. Other favourites making a comeback this season will be the annual UAE National Day poetry and song performance Hekayah/The Story on December 5, the Imagine Science Festival from January 30 to February 2 and the Arabic film screening series CinemaNa. Dates for these will be announced soon.

For the full list of shows for the 2018-2019 season, go to www.nyuad-artscenter.org.


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