The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has announced a diverse line-up for its Season 7 spring schedule, with commissioned works, UAE premieres, and returning fan favorites. Furthering the season’s theme ‘Now and into the Future’, which echoes the UAE’s recent 50th Anniversary Jubilee and the future orientation of EXPO 2020, the lineup of music, theater, dance, film, poetry, and interdisciplinary performances spotlights The Arts Center’s continued investment in the UAE’s performing arts and creative economy.

The shows are also scheduled for the return of audiences to in-person events on NYUAD’s campus for the first time in two years.

Bill Bragin

“During the past two years, The Arts Center has remained incredibly active, presenting an ongoing array of innovative programs and investing in artists through our commissioning and professional development programs. From locally commissioned dance performances to multiple performances which blur the boundaries between live performance and cinema, the spring lineup demonstrates the results of this investment in innovation within tradition.”

Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi Bill Bragin

“We are especially delighted that these shows will be in-person for the first time in two years. We learned a lot from the unavoidable transition to online formats, going way beyond what we would previously have thought possible to make meaningful connections between performers and the audience. We will build on that experience to continue to explore innovative ways to showcase eclectic global talent and support the local arts scene. Speaking personally, there’s nothing better than being in the same time and space as the artists and other audience members, and we are thrilled to re-gather as an arts community. We are grateful to our friends in the Saadiyat Cultural District, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat al Saadiyat, for giving some of our programs a home as we transitioned back to in person events. This spirit of collaboration and collegiality is a hallmark of the growing arts community in the UAE. But there’s nothing better than being in your own home, and we’re thrilled to welcome the community back to The Arts Center and to the NYUAD campus,” Bragin added.

For its return to in-person performances at The Arts Center, an immersive live documentary and profound sensory experience by Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Sam Green, 32 Sounds will run on March 9 and 10 in The Red Theater, the first of several performances this spring which reinvent the boundaries between live performance and film.  Exploring the elemental phenomenon of sound, a virtual version of 32 Sounds was selected to open the prestigious 2022 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival. The Arts Center co-commissioned this version of a “live-cinema” performance that features live narration by Sam Green and live original music by faculty member at NYU Clive Davis School JD Samson. 32 Sounds is the second piece by Sam Green co-commissioned by The Arts Center, following A Thousand Thoughts, his previous collaboration with Kronos Quartet.

On Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20, Sima Dance Company, from Dubai, will premiere Rhyme in The Red Theater. The commissioned full-length work, which expands on a piece created for Expo 2020 Dubai, builds on the sold-out world premiere of Ansaf two years ago. Rhyme spotlights Arabic heritage and culture through an artistic lens, drawing from Arabic poetry, live vocals, and kinetic contemporary dance. Staged through an exchange of narration, Rhyme uses the universal language of music and movement to break linguistic barriers. Featured in the performance are vocalist Mostafa Aldelrady and Lama Mossallam (who is also a participant in The Arts Center’s Numoo artist development platform.)

Rooftop Rhythms, the Middle East’s longest-running open mic night, continues their open mic and slam poetry nights in-person at NYUAD’s The Marketplace on Fridays March 25 and May 20.

Continuing the musical theme, roots rockers The Mary McBride Band, who were the first artists to perform at The Arts Center in its pilot season in February 2015, make their long-awaited return to the UAE with support by the US Mission to the UAE and the US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. They will give a free performance on The East Plaza on March 24. Featuring members from New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, the band will take audiences on a journey across America’s most loved roots music genres and will give a free performance on the East Plaza on March 24.

On May 12 and 13, The Red Theater hosts The Storyville Mosquito by returning artist Kid Koala.  Co-commissioned by The Arts Center, The Storyville Mosquito is a live animated graphic novel that is performed, filmed, and scored in real time, featuring puppet theater, turntablism, a string trio, and live, real-time filmmaking.

UAE-based filmmaker and dancer Philip Rachid presents the World Premiere of his work, The Main Circle: 7.83 on June 16 and 17 in The Black Box. Commissioned by The Arts Center, The Main Circle: 7.83 is an enthralling and empowering transmedia performance, written and directed by Philip Rachid. It explores the perception of dance across Middle Eastern cultures and traditions, and is inspired by the work of Sam Green, who also features in the season lineup.

Collaborations with NYUAD’s academic programs are a fundamental part of The Arts Center’s mission, and especially spotlight UAE based and regional talent.

The first of two CinemaNa screenings in The Blue Hall kicks off on March 7 with The Stranger (Al Gharib) by Ameer Fakher Eldin (2021). In a small village in the occupied Golan Heights, the life of a desperate, unlicensed doctor takes another unlucky turn when he encounters a wounded man leading him to meet his newly found destiny. The screening will be followed by a Zoom Q&A with the director, moderated by filmmaker, Reem Saleh.

On April 11, Before We Forget (Qabl An-Nansa) by Nanby Nawaf Al Janahi (2021) sees a man burdened by debt and bad luck take the son he can’t support and the father who suffers from memory loss on a road trip to find a buried treasure that could solve all their problems. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, moderated by filmmaker, Nezar Andary.

CinemaNa is a collaboration with the NYUAD Film and New Media Program and Sorbonne Abu Dhabi.

ElectroFest continues its third edition on March 27 in The Black Box. Presented by the NYUAD Music Program and curated by Clare Lesser, the hugely varied program explores the interfaces between performers, composers, audiences, and technology.

On May 15, the NYUAD Faculty Recital will see classical pianist Ioannis Potamousis present an evening of music composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The performance in The Blue Hall is presented in partnership with the NYUAD Music Program.

Off The Stage presented by Mubadala accompanies the season with a robust line-up of arts chats and workshops on film, dance, storytelling, and puppetry, in support of the UAE’s national strategy to grow the nation’s Cultural and Creative Industries