x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Extraordinary sights and sounds

This week sees a series of musical and equestrian displays by the British Household Cavalry, the personal bodyguard of Britain's Queen.

The British Household Cavalry is in Abu Dhabi Wednesday-Saturday.
The British Household Cavalry is in Abu Dhabi Wednesday-Saturday.

This week sees a series of musical and equestrian displays by the British Household Cavalry, the personal bodyguard of Britain's Queen. The horsemanship ought to go down well among the riding-mad segments of Abu Dhabi society: one particular manoeuvre, in which the mounted horse sort of crouches under cover ready to spring into action, is known to have a peculiar power to startle. Even for the hollow-chested indoor types among us, the spectacle of a well-trained military band is hard to resist. It's a bit like watching old footage of Hank Marvin and the Shadows as they lock-step around the stage playing Wonderful Land: the guitar parts sound simple enough and the dance moves look like you could master them after a day or so's drilling, but combining the two is a feat reserved for magicians of bodily coordination. And the Shadows, so far as I recall, never had to do much in the way of soldiering on the side, which must be reckoned to diminish their aura of accomplishment somewhat. This said, it's unlikely the Household Cavalry will break out a tune as good as Apache. Horses for courses, as they say.

The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation offers an appetiser for the cinematic feast that the Middle East International Film Festival will offer next week. Starting on Thursday, a nine-day programme of 3D films will screen in the Al Dhafra Theatre. The selections range from the sublime (such as Pixar's Up and Jean-Michel Cousteau's Dolphins and Whales: Ocean Wonderland) to the bafflingly vindictive. Roll up on October 5 for Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience in which, we are assured, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift guest star and perform a song with the band. Not recommended if you suffer from epilepsy, eyes or ears.

A couple of art exhibitions which open this week look worth investigating. The Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre has a group exhibition by a quintumvirate of Latvian artists, calling themselves the Group of Five. Their publicity material calls the show - at first glance an innocent combination of painting, ceramics and textiles - a manifesto. It all has to do with stereotypes about "the manly and the feminine," apparently. There's a bit of an early 1960s ring to these dialectical postures that is interesting, if only given how spectacularly rotten the Cold War era was for Latvia. Meanwhile, The Jam Jar gallery has a new show, titled Once Upon a Sting, which promises meditations on fairy tales and piercing objects - needles, hooks and so forth. That's enough to set the mind conjuring, dreadful title notwithstanding.

Finally, Art Sawa is offering a programme of classes on opera appreciation taught by the British composer David Lesser. It's a 10-lesson series, starting in the 18th century and finishing with the later Wagner and taking in what look to be the major milestones along the way. Opera is in an unenviable position at the table of high culture: it's expensive to stage and has an elitist profile that puts a lot of people off. Perhaps the best remedy for this is to convince a lot of other people of its merits; to create demand, in other words. That's where Lesser's class comes in. I suggest that if you don't like opera now, you should sign up (admissions close this week), get the tour and see how you feel afterwards.

British Household Cavalry Adihex, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Wednesday-Saturday. 3D cinema Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi, Thursday- October 10 Group of Five Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, Wednesday-October 14 Once Upon a Sting The Jam Jar, Dubai, Wednesday-October 24 Understanding Opera Art Sawa, Dubai. Registration closes Saturday. workshop@artsawa.com