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Dance groups to circus troupes: The spectacular new season at The Arts Center at NYUAD

Enjoy an eclectic mix of dance, music and theatre on Saadiyat Island.

The Arts Center at NYUAD has long been a cultural hub in the UAE capital. We’re excited as the centre has announced its eighth season, which covers a big theme: stories. The theme is bought to life through dance, music and theatre, and an exciting line-up of jazz legends, circus troupes and dance groups.

There are cultural events aplenty: CinemaNa will screen Daughters of Abdul-Rahman by Zaid Abu Hamdan and Huda’s Salon by Hany Abu-Assad, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers; spoken word artists, poets and musicians are welcome to Rooftop Rhythms open mic night; and Hekayah The Story celebrates UAE National Day.

The Arts Center’s new season includes local, regional and global artists, all of whom are tackling the idea of storytelling. Executive Artistic Director at NYUAD Arts Center, Bill Bragin, explains: “The season’s theme, Stories, invites audiences and artists alike to travel on a rich artistic journey that may be new and unfamiliar, comforting, challenging or unexpected, but always dynamic and diverse.” 

Here are some of the highlights from The Arts Center’s new season.

Barzakh Festival 

The eclectic two-day musical festival includes performances by Pakistan’s Grammy Award winner, Arooj Aftab; Algeria’s all-female ensemble Lemma; and Somaliland’s singer and cultural activist Sahra Halgan. The performers are all sharing their own musical stories, for example, Sahra fought against a dictatorship and arrived in Lyon, France as a political refugee.

NYUAD The Arts Center

Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels

Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels is collaborating with The Arts Center at NYUAD to create new dance shows, which you can catch on 17 September. Set and Reset/Reset is being reimagined by the CanDoCo Dance Company, and aims to spark conversations about dance and disability. Look out for CanDoCo Dance Company’s events, from workshops to artist talks. 

What the Day Owes to the Night by Compagnie Hervé Koubi is being bought to life by thirteen dancers. The show is inspired by the French choreographer’s reaction to the revelation that he and his family were of Algerian origin. Plus, Last Ward by the Palestinian and American group Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre addresses mortality with sensitivity and humour.

NYUAD The Arts Center

Groupe Acrobatque de Tangers

Swinging their way from Morocco to Abu Dhabi, Groupe Acrobatque de Tangers are bringing their family-friendly show FIQ! to The Arts Center’s new season. Marvel at the troupe’s acrobatic tricks, choreography and colourful costumes, which have been designed by the Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj. The show takes place on 27 and 29 April 2023.

NYUAD The Arts Center


The Arts Center’s biannual festival, Manifold, returns this season. The season includes a celebration of Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday, as Ioannis Potamousis performs a piano recital of the composer’s work on 27 February 2023. Plus, Ioannis will perform renditions of compositions that inspired him, which include Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin.

NYUAD The Arts Center


Not sure what ethno jazz is? Well, here’s your chance to find out. Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit brings her cool combination of jazz and world music to The Arts Center’s new season. Meklit kicks off the season on 8 September with Movement, a show that draws on her own experiences as a child refugee in the United States. 

Meklit’s show looks at the relationship between migration and music through sound and song. Plus, it includes interviews and performances with UAE artists such as Abu Dhabi based Somali rapper Freek, Al Ain based Syrian singer Ghaliaa Chaker, and Dubai based Filipino musician Cromwell Ojeda (Muhaisnah Four).


Raul Midón and Alex Cuba

Raul Midón will be bringing the sounds of Latin America and North America to The Arts Center at NYUAD on 3 November. The American jazz, soul and pop guitarist and singer will perform alongside the Grammy Award-winning Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter, Alex Cuba. Plus, Abu Dhabi based Emirati singer-songwriter NotSoHuman will open the show.

Alex Cuba

Ravi Coltrane 

If both your parents are two jazz legends, John and Alice Coltrane, it’s highly likely that music will run in your blood. Ravi Coltrane is the son of the jazz duo, and has forged a career as one of America’s most famous jazz saxophonists and composers. Ravi is coming to the Gulf for the first time on 6 October and his show, Cosmic Music: A Contemporary Exploration into the Music of John and Alice Coltrane, builds on his parents’ exploration of spiritual jazz traditions.

Ravi Coltrane 

GO: Visit www.nyuad-artscenter.org for bookings and more information. 

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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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