From the highly-anticipated Barzakh Festival to everyone’s favourite Rooftop Rhythms, here’s a list of all you can expect in the coming months!
A vibrant and dynamic cornerstone of the UAE capital, the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has consistently played host to a wide range of events throughout the year. 2023 promises to be no different, with a diverse calendar of activities that are sure to engage and inspire the community.
No better way to say hello to 2023 than with Rooftop Rhythms #94, Abu Dhabi’s longest-running open mic night.
This year, save the date for 27 January at 8pm, with a DJ set precluding the slam competition and open mic featuring spoken word artists, poets, Hip-Hop artists, and musicians. Hosted by Dorian Paul Rogers, it’s sure to be a night of truth and wonderment.
NYUAD also continues their Off The Stage series with Rooftop Junior – Spoken Word Performance Workshop and Dorian Rogers leading the workshop on 28 January at 12pm.
Pizzica Tarantata Dance with Silvia Perrone from Canzionere Grecanico Salentino
On 1 February, shake a leg at The Arts Center as Silvia Perrone, the dancer of CGS shows you the ropes to dancing a Pizzica Tarantata.
The traditional dance originating from Salento in the South of Italy is a style also used to cure the legendary tarantula bite. Perfect for dancers of all levels, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t reserve your spot right away!
The return of the Barzakh Festival for its seventh edition will see diversity in music like never before. Created to be the meeting place of global-minded musicians, the festival reflects varied influences and identities that bring the contemporary and the traditional together.
The result? A boundary-pushing lineup filled with musical revelations.
Starting 3 February, day one will feature Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS), from Italy, and Lemma, from Algeria. The first and most important group to produce popular Salentinian music from southern Italy, CGS is now led by his award-winning multi-instrumentalist son, Mauro Durante.
Day 3 will witness the two UAE debuts of Ak Dan Gwang Chil (ADG7), an award-winning group from Korea, and Sahra Halgan plus band, furthering the eclectic theme with a mix of original and traditional music from Somaliland.
Arts Chat: Finding a Voice Between Tradition & Contemporary
Presented in partnership with NYUAD Art Gallery and NYUAD Career Development Center is the chance to explore art and culture like never before.
Starting 2 February at the NYUAD Art Gallery Reading Room, join singer and leader of Algeria’s Lemma, Souad Asla; Musician, composer and bandleader of CGS, Mauro Durante; Korean shamanic folk-pop group Ak Dan Gwan Chil (ADG7), and Somali singer and bandleader, Sahra Halgan as they share approaches to preserving their traditions while honouring heritage and creating space for innovation in an ever-changing world.
On 4 February, learn from the diverse group of talented musicians from Barzakh Festival during this interactive and rhythmic-focused workshop on various music genres and instruments. Geared towards intermediate to advanced musicians with a serious interest to expand their skills, it’s the perfect place to learn and apply.
Held at The Arts Centre, the same will be led by Algerian singer and leader of Lemma, Souad Asla; composer and traditional Somali musician, Sahra Halgan; and Mauro Durante, leader of the southern Italian pizzica innovators Canzionere Grecanico Salentino (CGS).
Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre
Later in February, Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre’s Last Ward blends dance with theatre in a highly-visual performance that reflects on the universal experience of facing death.
Set to boggle minds on 10 February starting 7.30pm, the production has been supported by Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Set in a hospital room, a dying patient reflects on his life, relationships and connection to place, as the ritual of doctor visits and family calls transforms into an increasingly bizarre landscape of tragedy and humour.
For YSDT, their work has consistently been about uniting diverse artists and audiences in the creative process, with a belief that art should be liberating, transformative, and accessible to all.
Michael Skillern: Two Hands, a Shell, and a Keyboard
Marking Valentine’s Day in a melodious manner, Michael Skillern aims to draw the listener’s ear with an eclectic mix of acoustic, percussion + fixed media, and works that fuse percussion with live electronics.
Within The Blue Hall, the solo show will paint an immersive soundscape of varied sonic experiences all made with ‘2 hands.’ The ‘shell’ in the title pays homage to Skillern’s vintage 1970s Ludwig snare drum, straight from the United States of America.
Away from the drum set, a snare drum has a rainbow of sonic capabilities that often leaves listeners wondering and questioning what they just heard. How can a drum make such a sound? In a space where sight doesn’t match the sound, new sonic possibilities are brought to life.
In honour of the 150th anniversary of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ioannis Potamousis is set to present a solo piano program featuring the former’s miniature and larger compositions. Alongside the same will be works by other composers that inspired him, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin. It’s bound to be a soulful night for lovers of the instrument or those looking to switch things up a little!
Balimaya, the Maninka word for ‘essence of kinship’, is woven throughout this project. In the instance, it’s the repertoire and instrumentation of the Mandé peoples of Senegal and Mali being the bridge to bring the folkloric West African music together with jazz and the sounds of Black London.
Led by composer/arranger and leading UK-based Djembe player, Yahael Camara Onono, Balimaya Project creates unique and exciting music that seeks to reclaim their ancestral culture and music and have quickly made an impression!
Black Box Cinema
Founded and managed by filmmaker Nawaf Al Janahi (Before We Forget, Sea Shadow), the Black Box Cinema has been a landmark in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair since 2014. The main focus has always been on generating better reach for Arab short films and garnering more fans. Leading into its 6th edition, treat yourself to a selection of 5 Arab short films that were screened in previous editions!
Bruce Liu – Abu Dhabi Festival
Winner of the 2021 International Chopin Piano Competition, international star pianist Bruce Liu is ready to serenade the UAE capital with a thrilling program of classical and romantic highlights. The spectacular recital full of enthusiasm, passion and excitement will feature Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), Frédéric Chopin (1810 –1849), and Franz Liszt (1811- 1886)! Can’t wait!
Emirati Short Film Program
Discover local talent and vision through this program featuring a series of short films by Emirati filmmakers. Set to screen at The Blue Hall on 4 April, catch Hamam Zakiya (7 minutes) directed by Eman Al Sayed, A Small Dream (15 minutes) directed by Sarra’a Al Shehhi, Hayya (19 minutes) directed by Shereen Abu Ouf, and The Monster (25 minutes) directed by Abdulrahman Al Madani.
Faraj Abyad: Andalusian Love Story
Andalusian Love Story, a composition written by Faraj Abyad and arranged by Layth Sidiq, is based on a series of love letters written between Ibn Zaydun and Wallada Bint Al Mustakfi. Influences from modern Khaleeji, Latin, and classical music intertwine with classical Egyptian and Syrian Muwashshah styles to create a new modern sound rooted in Arabic Turath and tradition.
FIQ! – Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger
Expect an otherworldly collection of acrobatic feats, figures, colours, music, sketches, headspins, and choreography at FIQ! The circus show is built of modern, tumbling alchemy, set to sounds by DJ Dino and fiery rap, between vivid colours and black and white, all with a Moroccan touch. Get ready for 15 diversely skilled performers coming together for a whirlwind of traditional and modern floor acrobatics and more!
Under The Fig Trees by Erige Sehiri
On 16 May, head to The Red Theatre to catch a screening of the film, Under The Fig Trees.
Inspired by real events that revolve around female agricultural workers in Tunisia, the film presents an intergenerational dialogue. Essentially, focusing on the conflict between a group of teens and older folk as they work the summer harvest, catch feelings, attempt to understand each other, and navigate the complicated terrain of building deeper ties. The movie will also be followed by an online conversation with Tunisian French filmmaker Erige Sehiri.
For more information on the events, visit nyuad-artscenter.org/en_US/events/dayplanner
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Image Source NYUAD