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NYU Abu Dhabi Features Arab Talent In Its New Online Series

Enjoy some amazing performances via “Reconnect,” starting with Maysoon Zayid’s hilarious stand-up comedy…

While culture vultures around the world aren’t able to physically attend all the must-see exhibitions and performances they have bookmarked, the amazing news is technology is allowing them to literally experience a whole world of culture through their screens. And one of the latest arts facilities to offer UAE and global audiences some respite is The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi. Reconnect, the centre’s newly launched free online streaming series, inspired by its fifth season theme of Connection, is a curated line-up of archival performances. As well as highlighting the power of the arts to bring people together, it fulfills The Art Center’s mission to provide a platform to foster creativity and create a sense of community.

The series, which kicks off on April 1, is streamed through The Art Center’s Facebook page on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. And it creates an opportunity for people to come together, in a real-time virtual space, to be inspired, connected and stimulated while maintaining social distancing. In addition to watching compelling performances from the facility that provides music, theatre, dance, film and interdisciplinary shows, audiences will be able to chat, share thoughts and interact with the artists themselves.

“More than ever, people crave platforms for the arts as a means to spark conversation, to build community, and to inspire. Even as a nearly infinite amount of content is available for on-demand viewing, there’s something special about the act of connecting as a community, together, in real-time,” Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Center at NYUAD, said. “We realised that The Arts Center could help fill this need in an online space, while digging into our archives of amazing performances, many of which haven’t been seen since they originally took place. We’re especially grateful to the artists who have agreed to let us share these archival videos at a time when staying connected has never been more challenging, or more important.”

Here are the first couple of performances to look forward to:

April 1: Maysoon Zayid’s hilarious stand-up comedy

Maysoon Zayid is an actress, comedian, writer and disability advocate. The Guest Comedian in Residence at Arizona State University, her alma mater, is the also the Co-Founder/Co-Executive Producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Muslim Funny Fest. She was a full-time On-Air Contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Maysoon has most recently appeared on Oprah Winfrey Network’s In Deep Shift, 60 Minutes and ABC News. The American-Palestinian had the most viewed TED Talk of 2014 and was named as one of the 100 Women of 2015 by the BBC.

Maysoon, known as one of America’s first Muslim female comedians, will join the event. This will be via a live-streamed post-show Q&A, moderated by Alana Barraj, who oversaw the performance in her former role as The Arts Center’s Senior Producer.

April 8:47SOUL’s electro Arabic dabke (shamstep)

Relive every moment of 47SOUL’s upbeat UAE debut during The Arts Center’s at Barzakh Festival, a concert that keeps you moving until the very last beat. The online show features 47SOUL’s former quartet line-up: Z the People (vocals & synths), El Far3i (darbouka, MC/Vocals), WalaaSbeit (percussion, MC/vocals) and El Jehaz (guitar & vocals).


Une publication partagée par 47SOUL السبعة و أربعين (@47soul) le

The electro Arabic dabke band was formed in Jordan in 2013. Th four members are rooted in Bilad Al-Sham, spanning the divides from Amman to Ramallah and the rest of the Palestinian diaspora. 47SOUL’s lyrics, a mix of Arabic and English, call for celebration and freedom in the struggle for equality, inside Bilad Al Sham and throughout the world.

April 15: Cuban-Khaleeji Project - Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra + Yazz Ahmed + Boom.Diwan + Malika Zarra + Ali Obaid

Revisit the Cuban-Khaleeji Project, a one-of- a-kind musical journey exploring the traditions and sounds of seafaring cultures from the Gulf and North Africa to Cuba. This was a world premiere collaboration commissioned by The Arts Center, weaving together the music of the Khaleeji people, the Middle East, Spain, Morocco and Cuba.


Une publication partagée par Yazz Ahmed (@yazzahmedmusic) le

The Cuban-Khaleeji Project was led by pianist, composer, director and six-time Grammy-award winner Arturo O’Farrill and his 18-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Special guests included British-Bahraini trumpet player and composer Yazz Ahmed, Kuwaiti-UAE global jazz ensemble Boom. Diwan, Moroccan-French singer, composer and producer Malika Zarra and Emirati oudist Ali Obaid.

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