Spectacular Dance Extravaganza by Merchants of Bollywood is an Electrifying Opening to the Abu Dhabi Festival 2018

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, joins the audience for a vivid homage to the world’s largest and most prolific film industry – Bollywood

15th edition of the region’s foremost celebration of arts and culture celebrates the deep cultural wealth of India as ‘Country of Honour’

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 9 March 2018): In an evening of swirling colours and sensational dance numbers, the widely acclaimed theatrical dance extravaganza, Merchants of Bollywood, opened the 2018 Abu Dhabi Festival in the presence of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance; H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF); H.E. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, President of Zayed University; and H.E. Navdeep Sing Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE. Having entranced audiences of more than two million worldwide, Abu Dhabi audiences gathered to celebrate the cultural wealth of India as the Festival ‘Country of Honour’. Continuing its legacy of presenting world-renowned stars in the UAE, the 15th Abu Dhabi Festival welcomes artists and luminaries of the Indian subcontinent who have taken their culture to great heights through dance, music, film and theatre.

Celebrating the depth and diversity of contemporary Indian culture, the dance extraordinaire engaged audiences with an eclectic homage to the vivid energy of Bollywood, telling the story of the Merchant family, a dynasty who have shaped its course for generations through dance and choreography. The renowned stage musical featured a cast of over 40 multi-talented performers in a spectacular fusion of colour, as well as sensational dance scenes choreographed by one of Bollywood’s top choreographers, Vaibhavi Merchant. The dynamic and spirited musical hits were composed by award-winning duo, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant. Seen by over two million people across the world in more 1,000 performances across 20 countries, Merchants of Bollywood continues to evolve with tributes to the latest Bollywood blockbusters.

H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival said: “Celebrating the diversity of international arts and culture is central to our values. The UAE has a longstanding history of cross-cultural exchange with the subcontinent as well as a deep-rooted appreciation of all facets of contemporary Indian culture. The Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 Country of Honour designation recognises the cultural wealth of India, and the close diplomatic ties enjoyed by our nations. Presenting The Merchants of Bollywood as this year’s inaugural performance demonstrates the vibrant energy that characterises the nation’s most popular export. As the Festival progresses, the nuance and diversity of Indian culture will be presented through music, dance and film – a complement to the richly varied programme embraced by the Festival as a whole.”

In line with the Festival celebrating the depth and diversity of contemporary Indian culture as the Country of Honour, The Merchants of Bollywood is only the first in a lineup of sublime acts commemorating and highlighting the country’s vast cultural and artistic heritage. This year’s sublime programme also includes a classical Indian dance interpretation of the work of Rumi in We the Living by Tanusree Shankar Dance Academy and The Sarod Master USTAD Amjad Ali Khan making his Abu Dhabi Festival Debut with an evening of expressive and entrancing performances that demonstrate why he is revered as one of the greatest proponents of Indian classical music.

H.E. Navdeep Sing Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, commented: “I am delighted that India’s participation at the Festival has started with the high-voltage performance of Merchants of Bollywood. The music, rhythms and energy of the show were infectious and it was great to see the audience vibe with the songs. My compliments to this wonderful festival for being the first to bring the magic of Bollywood to Abu Dhabi.”

Running until 31 March 2018, Abu Dhabi Festival will bring a line-up of globally renowned artists to the capital, including two eclectic performances by the eminent Orchestra dell-Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia – Rome; the world premiere of Emirati composer Ihab Darwish’s Waves of my Life performed by Beethoven Academy Orchestra and Polish Radio Choir, conducted by Stoyan Stoyanov; an intimate evening with internationally-renowned soprano Deborah Voigt accompanied by beloved Lebanese tenor Bechara Moufarrej; the Sinatra of the Middle East – Palestinian singer Omar Kamal with a night of jazz, swing and Arabic classics; a concert of global music and glamour with Pink Martini; an immersive multimedia experience in Pianographique, featuring works by Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Maurice Ravel, with live visualisations by Ars Electronica; an epic evening of piano concertos for two, three and four pianos with The Bach Project; and, to conclude the Festival, Compañía Nacional de Danza will make their Arab World Debut with Don Quixote. Abu Dhabi Festival continues its programme of international commissions and co-commissions which includes Carmen at the Royal Opera House, London until 16 March.

Throughout the Festival, a calendar of free events, exhibitions, performances and workshops will also take place engaging, empowering and nurturing the UAE’s creative scene. Highlights include the return of Festival in the Park at Umm Al Emarat Park with two nights of live performances and workshops, free for the public to attend; Riwaq Al Adab wal Kitab which sees the release of twelve new books by Emirati authors; the return of Riwaq al Fikr, the Festival’s annual debate and conversation series returning for its 15th edition; the launch of Riwaq Al Khatt Al Arabi, celebrating the profound depths and expressiveness of Arabic calligraphy through workshops, professional courses, talks and discussion groups, exhibitions as well as an annual competition and award; and the popular return of The Ministry of Science; among many others

The Abu Dhabi Festival is presented and organised by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. ADMAF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision.

For further information on schedules, venues and performances please visit the Festival website www.abudhabifestival.ae. Abu Dhabi Festival can also be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 Ticket Information

Performance: Emirates Palace Ticket Prices
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia – Rome Diamond (AED 350); Gold (AED 250); Silver (AED 175), Bronze (AED125)
Waves of My Life by Emirati composer Ihab Darwish Open to all by registration
Opera in Concert: Deborah Voigt and Bechara Moufarrej General admission AED 200
Singing the Legends: A Night of Jazz with Omar Kamal General admission AED 200
We the Living: Classical Indian Dance by Tanusree Shankar Dance Academy General admission AED 200
Pink Martini Live in Abu Dhabi Diamond (AED 350); Gold (AED 250); Silver (AED 175), Bronze (AED125)
Pianographique: Works for two pianos by Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Maurice Ravel with live visualisation General admission AED 200
The Sarod Master: USTAD Amjad Ali Khan General admission AED 200
The Bach Project AED 100
Don Quixote: Compañía Nacional de Danza Diamond (AED 350); Gold (AED 250); Silver (AED 175), Bronze (AED125)

About Abu Dhabi Festival

Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan,

UAE Minister of Tolerance

Founded in 2004, the Abu Dhabi Festival was held under the Patronage of the then Minister of Information and Culture (and now Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This was followed from 2007 to 2011 with the Patronage of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Today, the Festival is held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance.

Each year, Abu Dhabi Festival brings audiences together to share unique experiences that testify to our shared humanity and the deep bonds we share. Always growing, always innovating, it brings the best of the world to Abu Dhabi and takes the very best of Abu Dhabi to the world.

The 15th Abu Dhabi Festival presents the cultural excellence of 30 countries and the creativity of over 200 Emiratis alongside more than 500 artists from the four corners of the globe. In keeping with its reputation for ‘firsts’, Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 presents 2 Festival debuts, 4 UAE debuts, 6 Arab world debuts and 3 world premieres. From music to theatre, literature and visual arts, this year’s Festival continues to spread its arms across the UAE and the world. Beyond the national programme, audiences in Europe and beyond will experience new productions, concerts and exhibitions during the year, made possible by Abu Dhabi Festival.

For more information please visit our website at: www.abudhabifestival.ae

About ADMAF

Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan,

UAE Minister of Tolerance

Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, not-for-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world.

Often in partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through the Abu Dhabi Festival, special projects and year-round education and community programmes.

In the visual arts, it contributes to artists’ professional development, seeks to enhance and elevate the UAE art scene through publications, grants, commissions and exhibitions, works in schools and universities to inspire and inform the next generation, and uses art to tackle social issues. Presenting the creativity of the UAE at home and abroad, ADMAF uses the visual arts to empower a nation and to secure a brighter future for its communities and its artists.

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