Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel
Angelique Kidjo’s Remain in Light Concert
On Feb. 3, three-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo came to NYU Abu Dhabi to perform Remain in Light. Known as one of Africa’s “greatest living female vocalists, a dynamic live performer and celebrated philanthropist and activist,” Kidjo made her UAE debut at NYUAD, attracting the attention of not only students and faculty members, but also outside members of the community. Kidjo performed on a makeshift stage outside the Arts Center at the East Plaza, allowing all concert-goers to enjoy her music in the cool weather.
“Her voice and stage presence were unlike any artist’s I have ever seen. Her talk about environmental protection between performances was inspiring and it was clear that she is not only a passionate performer but also an activist,” said Haewon Yoon, Class of 2021, one of the many students who attended the concert.
Regarding her music, Kidjo has expressed that she wanted to “pay back the homage and create [her] own African take on Talking Heads songs,” as Remain in Light was influenced by her native continent.
“Now is the time to bring rock back to Africa, connect our minds and bring all our sounds to a new level of sharing and understanding,” she stated. Kidjo has collaborated with many notable artists, including Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, John Legend and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Aakash Odedra Company - #JeSuis
On Feb. 7-9, Aakash Odedra, an award winning British dancer, brought to NYUAD his most recent choreographed ensemble work, #JeSuis, that explores what it is like to live a life during a conflict. #JeSuis, titled after a French hashtag translating to I am, featured a group of dancers from Turkey, a country fraught with political turbulence. The origin of #JeSuis lies in Odedra’s encounter with a group of Turkish dancers in Istanbul, during which he was inspired by the dancers’ responses to the false representation of their homeland by the media. The performance also addressed issues such as displacement, the refugee crisis and political instability.
“The dancers were extremely talented, of course, but the raw emotion and symbolism of the choreography, along with the set and sound design were incredible.” said Jacinta Hu, Class of 2020.
“The dancers were amazing, and combining their skill with the subtext behind the performance, made #JeSuis incredibly powerful and enjoyable to watch,” said Mehak Sangani, Class of 2021.
An additional show was added to satisfy the student body’s interest in the performance.
Seong-Jin Cho’s Piano Recital
On Feb. 8, South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho made his debut in the UAE with his performance at NYUAD’s Arts Center. The event was a part of Abu Dhabi Classics series. Cho is famously known as the young prodigy who won first prize at the 2015 Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw and third prize at the Tchaikovsky competition when he was only 17. For his UAE debut, the pianist designed a program that well reflected his artistic choices and demonstrated his, “tendency to explore Beethoven’s mastery with the classic sonata form as well as its later variations.”
“I loved it! It was amazing; the national anthems he played made me feel so happy and proud. He played Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy and they all sounded magnificent. Just magical, you know? It was so surreal that I don’t even know how this happened.” said Eunsu Choi, Class of 2021, after the event.
“It was remarkable to see the wide range of music he can cover, from Classical Beethoven and Impressionist Debussy to Romantic Chopin. With a profound and deliberate understanding of each composer’s intention and characteristics, he showed impressive musical versatility, proving he is not just a Chopin specialist. However, I cannot deny that his Chopin is particularly captivating and I was completely mesmerized by his encore performance, Polonaise in A flat major. I am very grateful to see him performing in NYUAD Arts Center and it was one of the best moments in my life at NYUAD,” said Sooji Kim, Class of 2020.
Gully Cricket event
On Feb. 9, the Pakistan Student Association and TASHAN hosted the Gully Cricket event at the Performance Gym for both experienced and inexperienced cricket players. The organizers of the event prepared food including karak tea, buffalo wings, samosas and special prizes for the winners, including a trophy, medals and NYUAD Athletics t-shirts. Members of the PSA and TASHAN promoted the event on Facebook, attracting much attention among the student body.
“The event went really well! We had a good audience turnout of both South Asians as well as people from other parts of the world who were watching cricket for the first time,” said Siya Chandrie, Class of 2021, TASHAN’s Events Coordinator.
“I think the Gully Cricket event was incredibly well executed. I know from personal experience that it takes a lot of time and effort to organize a successful Gully Cricket event, but the E-boards of PSA and TASHAN made it look effortless. And despite being in its fifth season, the event still felt fresh, and people, players and spectators alike were just as enthusiastic about it this time around as they were the first time. I think the event has now firmly established itself as an NYUAD tradition and I hope people continue to enjoy it for a long time to come,” said Safa Kashaf, Class of 2018.
Cece Kim is News Deputy. Email her at [email protected]