Arts Center Announces Electrifying Third Season

Scenes from around the NYU Abu Dhabi new Saadiyat Island campus as seen on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014.

Press Release

Starting in September The Arts Center’s third season boasts a bold, thought provoking, ambitious, and entertaining line-up of eclectic programming from around the world

Building on the success of its first two years, the third season of The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi introduces a line-up of performances by artists representing more than 20 countries, which will strengthen The Arts Center’s contributions to deepening the arts and cultural community in the UAE.

This season will feature an expanded range of Arabic and family-oriented programming. Many performances also showcase interactive media, continuing The Arts Center’s commitment to presenting work that bridges the arts and technology. Much of the work in this season shares themes of inclusion, empathy, and the promotion of greater understanding.

From the UAE debut of interactive dance performances utilizing cutting-edge digital projections by Compagnie Käfig, to a world premiere of a mystical musical collaboration between the acclaimed British Indian musician Susheela Raman and Pakistani Sufi masters Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, to Maysoon Zayid’s stand-up comedy, the season promises to surprise and thrill audience members with its broad and eclectic range.

"Thematically, underpinning many of the presentations this year is a sense of how the arts can create foster greater empathy and connectedness. Theater and dance pieces like Toshi Reagon's and Bernice Johnson Reagon’s opera Octavia E Butler's Parable of the Sower, Tania el Khoury's Gardens Speak, 600 Highwaymen's The Fever, and Aakash Odedra Company's #JeSuis movingly address some of the crises facing the world,” says Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi Bill Bragin.

“Stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid uses humor to illuminate her experience of being a Palestinian-American, with a disability, from New Jersey. Cross-cultural musical events, like our UAE National Day celebration Hekayah |The Story and the Barzakh Festival, bring diverse communities together to juxtapose and remix culturally specific traditions within a global context, through performances by genre-shattering artists like British/Palestinian band 47SOUL, Haiti's RAM, and the Dutch - Ethiopian collaboration The Ex + Fendika.”

The Arts Center will proudly welcome returning artists who were part of the inaugural season, some of whom are coming back to Abu Dhabi to premiere work that was co-commissioned by The Arts Center.

“We are grateful to several extraordinary artists — Toshi Reagon, Kronos Quartet, Ragamala Dance with Amir ElSaffar, and Aakash Odedra Company — who have chosen to return to NYU Abu Dhabi. This deepening relationship with the artists underscores the role of The Arts Center as a place that supports the creation of innovative new work. Their creations will travel the world and represent the growing cultural sector of the UAE to the global arts community,” says Bragin.

Aakash Odedra is one of the returning artists, whose first ensemble choreography, #JeSuis, will have its world premiere this season at The Arts Center. “It is a great honour to be offered facility, time, and resources, which offers a safe haven to take artistic risk and develop a story which relates to so many people. For any venue to be hosting a world premiere to an artist means they share this journey of discovery with you, and that feels special,” he says.

On coming back to Abu Dhabi, Odedra adds: “To come back to any place means there is a connection. We received much warmth from the people of Abu Dhabi. There was a sense of curiosity and hospitality that enabled me to express and share ideas.”

Bragin adds, “It is a great affirmation that the world’s finest artists recognize the world class nature of our venues, staff, crew, and audiences. We are also thrilled to collaborate with NYUAD’s academic program to develop a January-term course designed by Professor Debra Levine specifically surrounding the creation of Aakash Odedra’s #JeSuis, further fulfilling the goals of integrating our public programming and educational missions.”

Over the previous two seasons attendance surpassed 35, 250 The Art Center’s public performances.

In addition to performances, educational outreach is a core part of The Arts Center’s work. During their residencies at NYU Abu Dhabi, artists become part of the university curriculum by visiting classes, leading public skills-building workshops and master classes, taking part in knowledge-building artist talks and Q&A’s to provide audiences with deeper context about the work, and helping build community at artist welcome dinners. The Arts Center also helps develop the next generation of arts enthusiasts through invited performances and open rehearsals for students.

The NYUAD Arts Center is an internationally renowned performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions.

Additional programs will be added, and all artists and dates are subject to change. Reservations for free tickets will be opened approximately two to three weeks prior to most events. Standby tickets are generally available at the door.

For more information please visit:

Follow @NYUADArtsCenter on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.


Compagnie Kafig – PIXEL
UAE Debut
Hip-hop dance and interactive media
Thursday, Sep 7 @ 8pm
Friday, Sep 8 @ 5pm
The Red Theater

Maysoon Zayid
Abu Dhabi Debut
Arabic and English stand-up comedy
Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 8pm (Arabic)
Thursday, Sep 14 @ 8pm (English)
The Red Theater

Compagnia TPO – Farfalle
UAE debut
Family, dance and interactive media
Thur - Sun, Sep 28 - Oct 1
Thur - Sat, Oct 5 - 7
@ 10am, 3pm, & 6pm
The Black Box

Susheela Raman/Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali – Queen Between
World Premiere, Commissioned by The Arts Center
South Asian music
Thursday, Oct 19 @ 8pm
The East Plaza

Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely
Returning by popular demand
Funk, rock, blues
Thursday, Nov 2 @ 8pm
The East Plaza

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower
Music and Lyrics by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon
Directed by Eric Ting
Based on the novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents
by Octavia E. Butler
World premiere, Co-Commis
Nov 9, 10, & 11 @ 8pm
The Red Theater

NYUAD Theater Program – The Aeneid
World Premiere
Mainstage student production
Wednesday - Saturday, Nov 15 - 18 @ 8pm &
Saturday, Nov 18 @ 2pm
The Black Box

600 Highwaymen – The Fever
Middle East Premiere
Participatory theater
Friday - Tuesday, Nov 24 - 28 @ 3pm & 7pm
The Red Theater

Hekayah | The Story
In Honor of UAE National Day
Poetry & song
Dec 5, 2017 @ 7pm
The East Plaza

Aakash Odedra - #JeSuis
World Premiere, Co-c
Wed - Fri, Feb 7, 8 & 9 @ 8pm &
Fri, Feb 9 @ 2pm
The Black Box

Kronos Quartet – Residency - 3 different performances in The Red Theater
1. Kronos Quartet In Concert
Featuring music from Fifty for the Future, Co-commissioned by The Arts Center
Thursday, Feb 15 @ 8pm
2. Around the World with Kronos Quartet
Family concert
Friday, Feb 16 @ 4pm
3. Middle East Premiere of A Thousand Thoughts: a Live Documentary by Sam Green and Kronos Quartet, Co-commissioned by The Arts CenterMusic and live cinema
Thursday, Feb 22 @ 8pm

Barzakh Festival
A Festival of World Music featuring:
47SOUL - Thursday, Mar 1 @ 7:30pm
RAM, The Ex + Fendika - Friday, Mar 2 @ 6pm:
The East Plaza

Imagine Science Abu Dhabi Film Festival
4th Annual Film Festival
Science and art collide
Wed - Sat, Mar 7 - 10
The Black Box

Ragamala Dance – Written in Water
Middle East Premiere
Bharatanatyam dance with live music by Amir ElSaffar
Wednesday & Thursday,
Mar 21 & 22 @ 8pm
The Red Theater

Tania El Khoury – Gardens Speak
Middle East Premiere
Interactive sound installation
Friday - Tuesday, Apr 27 - May 1
The Red Theater


Finally, through the duration of The Arts Center’s third season, Rooftop Rhythms, the Middle East’s longest running poetry open mic night produced by impresario Dorian “Paul D” Rodgers returns for a sixth season with events hosted on campus at the end of every month on Fridays between September 2017 – April 2018.

The third season will also host a new series –CinemaNa – film screenings and workshops on Arab cinema, presented in collaboration with the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. This will take place from October 16 to 18 and then from November 6 to 8. Additional dates for 2018 will be announced in due course.

Also from September 26 to October 7 and December 1 to 12, UK-based percussionist and composer Sarathy Korwar will be a Musician in Residence, working collaboratively with NYUAD students and UAE-based artists to create new music and reach a new international audience. This residency is organized in partnership between British Council, PRS Foundation, NYUAD Music Program and The Arts Center as part of the UK in the UAE/Year of Creativity initiative.

For more information please visit: Reservations for free tickets will be opened approximately two weeks prior to most events.

Follow @NYUADArtsCenter on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.