Huge new season of culture launched in Abu Dhabi

Music, comedy, art, dazzling dance shows and more taking over the emirate

A massive carnival of culture is set to take over the capital for months to come – as The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi kicks off a brand new season of entertainment tomorrow.

The third annual Arts Center season will see Grammy-winning musicians and award-laden playwrights rub shoulders with some of the UAE’s brightest new talents during an extensive programme of events running all the way through to next May.

The eagerly-awaited artistic showcase will kick off in dazzling style tomorrow night with the first of a double-header of performances from Pixel, who are all set to wow crowds with a mesmerizing mix of hip-hop dance displays and digital projections in the Art Center’s Red Theatre.

Another highlight of the packed programme include the Abu Dhabi debut of Maysoon Zayid, who will be taking audiences on a journey through her life growing up as an American-Palestinian with a disability, breaking down barriers along the way in the best way, with a joke.

Zayid will be taking to the stage at the Red Theatre on September 13 and 14.

The Art Center season will also see three-time Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo performing her reimagining of Talking Head’s classic 1980 album, Remain in Light, in the East Plaza. The big outdoor concert, being held on February 3 next year, will be the African icon’s debut in the UAE.

Celebrated playwright Heather Raffo will also make her Middle East bow with her stage show Noura, produced by the Shakespeare Theatre Company, which chronicles the lives of Iraqi immigrants in New York.

Kronos Quartet, often referred to as the bravest chamber ensemble in the world, return to perform three programs in The Red Theater in February next year. These include a concert of new works from their Fifty for the Future initiative, a family program; as well as a live cinema collaboration with Academy Award nominated documentarian
Sam Green, A Thousand Thoughts, in its regional premiere which was co-commissioned by The Arts Center.

Making its Middle East premiere is another Arts Center co-commission, Written in Water by returning artists Ragamala Dance Company and featuring music composed and performed by Amir elSaffar, another returning artist. This multidisciplinary performance at The Red Theater will explore the Indian board game Paramapadam – an early version of Snakes and Ladders that has previously been described as “a feast for the eyes, ears and heart.”

Bill Bragin, executive artistic director at NYUAD Arts Center said: “Our deepening relationship with these artists speaks to the role of NYU Abu Dhabi as a place that supports the creation of innovative new work that will travel the world representing the growing cultural sector of the UAE. It’s also a testimony that the world’s finest artists recognize the world-class nature of our venues, staff, crew, and audiences.”

To support The Arts Center in bringing exceptional performing arts programming to its audiences, as well as the development of new works by emerging artists, an admission fee will be introduced for performances starting this season.

Arts Center bosses say the charge for selected performances will enable The Arts Center to continue to bring world class culture to the capital.

Bragin added: “We were pleased to be able to offer complimentary admission during the inaugural two seasons in order to introduce the wide range of contemporary arts offerings to audiences of all backgrounds. This allowed audiences to get to know our artistic vision and gave them the opportunity to explore unfamiliar artists and genres, and to experience first-hand the unmatched quality of our productions. We are thrilled by how quickly The Arts Center has been embraced as a major new UAE cultural institution and trust that audience support through ticket purchases will help to position The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi for continued success.”

Selected performances will still be offered on a complimentary basis, making the programing available to the widest possible audience.

Additional information about the ticketing process and related fees will be available soon on The Arts Center’s website.

For more information on the full programme of events, visit:

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