x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Twinge arts festival in Dubai makes its debut

UAE-based artists take the stage this Saturday for the first edition of the Twinge Urban Arts and Culture Festival.

The Palestinian writer and filmmaker Hind Shoufani will lead the Magic of Poetry evening. Courtesy Hind Shoufani
The Palestinian writer and filmmaker Hind Shoufani will lead the Magic of Poetry evening. Courtesy Hind Shoufani

A diverse mix of UAE-based poets, musicians, fashion designers, comedians and filmmakers are set to take the stage this Saturday for the first edition of the Twinge Urban Arts and Culture Festival in Dubai.

The week-long event, hosted at Wild Peeta Open Space in the Dubai World Trade Centre, is free of charge.

Sherif Abaza, the managing partner of the organisers Sphere Events, said the idea to create such a diverse line-up began two months ago when he was approached for ideas on how to showcase a friend's art work. The idea then grew to a full-fledged festival for the community. After word on the concept spread, support started pouring in.

"It's not what people would describe as mainstream art. The artists are non-conventional and the most important part of this festival is that it's a platform and a community event," said Abaza. "I don't want it to become a major commercial festival. That's not going to happen."

The Egyptian national, who was raised in Dubai, added that planning for Twinge Abu Dhabi and Twinge Sharjah was already underway. A Twinge Kids is also set to launch in 2012 with a series of workshops.

Just days ahead of the festival, Abaz was still receiving calls from interested artists for Twinge Dubai.

"One of the challenges is definitely not a lack of talent. There cannot be enough of these events because there will always be a need for a creative outlet," he said.

On opening night, three authors, including the Emirati writer Sultan Al Darmaki and Alexander McNabb will take part in Praise for Prose, during which they will interact with the audience.

A host of six music performers will then take to the stage during the second night, including the British-born singer/songwriter Abbo, who describes himself as a "travelling musician".

"I love Sherif's idea of creating this concept. Especially as a platform for local artists because that's what people need," said Abbo, who counts Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Nina Simone among his main inspirations.

He describes his music as the type "to keep you company, when you want to be alone".

Having been in Dubai for the past four months, Abbo said performances are limited, which is why such festivals are crucial.

Another musician set to perform is the Dubai-based original singer/songwriter Sach Holden, who describes his style as similar to Abbo's.

"Our music, not many people can dance to it because it's more contemplative and for an intimate audience. This is what I love about the way Twinge has been organised - in a space where I can handle emotions," said the Indian national. "I love taking the audience through a journey."

Holden will also interact with listeners, relaying the stories behind his songs to see if the crowd shares similar experiences.

"The songs range from emotionally charged love songs, riots in India to songs inspired by Japanese and Korean films," he said. "I met Sherif luckily through two fans who are also performing at Twinge, which features all my favourite artists."

One such artist is Neel Kumar, the founder of Akela Films and one of the talents featured during Reels of Dubai, on closing night. Kumar will be screening a short film for the first time. With an open-ended finale, he aims to raise the curiosity of the audience.

"The film is about six minutes long and without giving too much away, no matter who you are there are certain times when you draw the line - when you throw in the towel," he said. "I don't like closed endings. I like to see people's reactions and what they take away from it."

The Dubomedy founders Ali Al Sayed and Mina Liccione, as well as Omar Ismail and Andrew Reynolds, will offer a mixture of stand-up and improvisation comedy, predominantly in English, during the fourth night. The next evening will see stilt walkers, jugglers and fire dancers performing during the Variety night.

The Magic of Poetry evening will feature the Poeticians - a group of poetry lovers focusing on spoken word and non-classical poems.

Hind Shoufani, a Palestinian writer and filmmaker, started the poetry group in Beirut in 2007. After moving to Dubai in 2009, she created the same platform.

"We are keeping it very raw. We have between six to eight performers and I will MC the event," said Shoufani. "One will focus on the Middle East, Beirut and nostalgia while another, for example, is more spiritual and soulful."

She will perform a Palestinian related poem, "some reasonably innocent love poems" and a piece related to Dubai.

"We try to do things that are straight forward and intense," she said. "It's an eclectic group of people. Some are published, some are in other professions who like to write."

Abaza said in order for the event to be the success they envision, they will ensure performers understand their responsibility to the audience.

"At the end of the day, they will respect the people that are leaving their work, their homes and getting on the Dubai Metro to the World Trade Centre station," he said. "The word is passion. It's passion with a sense of responsibility to your work and audience, that's the bottom line."


For more information, visit www.twingedxb.com