The ninth season is expected to showcase both global and local talent through shows, talks and workshops.
The imminence of a new season at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is always cause for celebration as far as culture vultures across the UAE are concerned. And like editions past, the upcoming ninth season will be rooted in a genre-defying programme themed ‘Arts at the Center’. An eclectic array of global and local talent will be showcased through shows, talks and workshops, while a number of shows will align with NYUAD’s sustainability efforts as part of the build-up to COP28, while other performances will reflect The Arts Center’s ongoing commitment to inclusivity.
Opening the season is Andrew Schneider’s N O W I S W H E N W E A R E (the stars), an immersive, multimedia theatrical installation that uses thousands of reactive lights and hundreds of speakers to create an interactive theatrical cosmos in a unique experience. The show, which has two versions – a narrative version for only eight audience members at a time, and an installation version for up to 40 people – will run from 31 August to 3 September, and from 5 to 10 September.
Elsewhere, a special focus on film as performance will translate to Koyaanisqatsi Live, a cine-concert taking place on 5 October and featuring the groundbreaking film by Godfrey Reggio that’s set to the influential score by Philip Glass. The music is performed live by the Philip Glass Ensemble, in a hypnotic exploration of nature, urbanisation and a world out of balance. Miwa Matreyek, meanwhile, is known for her captivating interdisciplinary shadow performances and live shows. Composed of two special pieces, “This World Made Itself” and “I Infinitely Yours” will run from 16 November to 18 November. Using projected animations and shadow silhouettes, Matreyek combines surreal and poetic narratives to depict the conflict between humans and nature, and the rapid changes on Earth due to climate change and global warming.
Returning-ish acts include singers Betsayda Machado and Parranda el Clavo, who will make their long-awaited Middle East debut at The Red Theater on 7 September. Building on their participation in The Arts Center’s virtual online season in 2021 with the world premiere of their documentary Las Cantoras, they will showcase the sounds of Venezuelan afro-soul Tambor, a percussion and voice celebration comprised of polyphonic melodies and call-and-response chants layered on propulsive traditional drums. The UAE’s Liwa Maritime Ensemble will open with a performance of Emirati cultural heritage.
Later in the month, the genre-busting East London collective Asian Dub Foundation will bring a full-on dance concert featuring their tough jungle rhythms, dub basslines, wild guitar, and forceful high-speed raps drawn from South Asian roots on 22 September. In a very different yet equally captivating performance, Brazilian chanteuse Bebel Gilberto will present a series of heartfelt and personal songs dedicated to her father, bossa nova originator João Gilberto in Songs My Father Loved on 30 September. The annual Barzakh Festival will also return, this time for its seventh edition, presenting four bands across two nights. Confirmed in the line-up? Singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi and musical ensemble Mazaher, the members of which are among the last remaining practitioners of Zar in Egypt.
Dance performances are on the roster, too. The Arts Center continues its partnership with Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels, with the Season 9 collaboration including the world premiere of Mehek by Aakash Odedra and Aditi Mangaldas on 7 February, 2024. An exploration of the human heart, its desires, courage, and resilience, the contemporary dance show promises to challenge societal norms and redefine the essence of love.
GO: Visit www.nyuad-artscenter.org for more information.