The WOMAD Abu Dhabi Festival 2011, organized for the third consecutive year by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and WOMAD Festivals, took off to an impressive start on Thursday (April 4th, 2011) with over 20.000 visitors at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi and at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain for the opening-night acts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s festival.
The concerts at the Corniche, to the delight of the crowds, were opened by a performance from local school children and The Dhol Foundation. Playing on the North Stage was Colombian salsa band La-33 who had the crowd swinging to the sound of their Latin beats.
The dazzling performance from The Maganiyar Seduction by Roysten Abel wowed audience with their unique show, while the fantastic energy from Orchestra National de Barbes roused the festival-goers into a frenzy. Paloma Faith’s stunning theatrical performance and Baaba Maal’s strong delivery were a perfect end to a wonderful first night at the festival.
The workshops also attracted large crowds with Baaba Maal’s musician’s and dancers leading the first workshop on Thursday night at Trispan. The screening of the short animation “Abu Dhabi Dub”- the completed work of students and WOMAD Beyond artist David Cox and his team of photographers, musicians and film makers, proved popular and is definitely one to catch when it is shown on Friday too.
Mr. Benn’s DJ set caused a thrilling stir amongst the audience who were energized by the skanking tunes and reggae beats he sent their way. Thursday night Taste the World artists, Khyam Allami & Andrea Piccioni filled the Trispan with tantalizing smells from their Italian and Iraqi traditional dishes. Look out for N’Faly Kouyaté and El Tanbura’s Taste the World sessions on Friday night.
The children’s workshops featured a variety of exciting activities such camel hairdresses, blankets and flags by Dot to Dot; falcon hats, palm trees and cobras by Taking Shape; Sand Art by Nisreen Simrin; Henna Painting; “Rattles” by David Cox. The Ndebele women from South Africa, Angelina Ndimande and Marry- Ann Mbonwayini Tjale, have started their site art and it is already looking beautiful even though they still have two days left to complete it.
Al Jahili Fort had other exciting surprises with Hindi Zahra’s gentle undulating voice drawing the crowds in, UAE’s own Tarab Al Emarat, Kora virtuoso, Toumani Diabaté and vibrant El Tanbura on the Fort Stage. A workshop by Ripton Lindsay opened the Park Stage followed by performances from Muntu Valdo the extraordinary one man band and the Garifuna maestro Aurelio. The children’s workshops, featuring Malarky and the Young Archeologists, had children creating brightly colored masks and digging for buried treasure.
Abdullah Al Ameri, Director of Arts and Culture Department at ADACH, said: “WOMAD Abu Dhabi certainly dissolves cultural and social barriers as people from different social and cultural backgrounds gather together to enjoy the music and the artistic presentations. The impressive turnout on opening day underlines the important role being played by WOMAD Abu Dhabi as a platform that promotes friendship, cultural understanding and social interaction among different nationalities that live and co-exist in the UAE.”
Chris Smith, WOMAD Director, said: “The incredible performances on the opening-night set the tone for a memorable festival at WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011. The crowd was enthralled by the artists and openly expressed its appreciation dancing and cheering the performers every move. There is so much more going on this year as we expect even larger audiences than ever to join in the festivities at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi and Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain during the weekend.”
Day two of the WOMAD Abu Dhabi Festival 2011 will feature another fantastic selection of performers including Jamaican ska and reggae legend Dr Jimmy Cliff, who will headline the performances at the Corniche, and Khairy Arby, who will be the opening act at the Al Jahili Fort. Adult and children’s workshops and the delicious Taste the World sessions will also be held throughout the evening.
WOMAD Abu Dhabi Festival 2011 is being held at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi from 7-9 April and at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain from 7-8 April.