Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

UAE National Day: Hollywood designer set to wow crowds

The show will take place at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi and tickets are on sale now

Inspired by local folklore, ‘Legacy of our Ancestors’ will take the audience on a historical exploration of the UAE’s centuries-old values
Inspired by local folklore, ‘Legacy of our Ancestors’ will take the audience on a historical exploration of the UAE’s centuries-old values

A Hollywood costume designer will help bring Emirati heritage to life during a spectacular 48th UAE National Day show in Abu Dhabi next week.

Performers will wow a 20,000-strong crowd at Zayed Sports City in a unique 50-minute performance in the capital on December 2.

Inspired by local folklore, ‘Legacy of our Ancestors’ will take the audience on a historical exploration of the UAE’s centuries-old values.

Stories from both the sea and shore will be played out on the huge stage, with artists making use of more than 1,800 custom-made props.

My research taught me that in the early days, Emirati garments were predominantly made with two materials…a toile overlay and then, usually, linen

Susan Kulkarni, Hollywood costume designer

Over the past 23 weeks, more than 5,000 cast and crew from 70 different nationalities have worked to bring the show together.

And of the 900 performers on the night, the youngest is aged just seven and the oldest more than 60.

Susan Kulkarni revealed she had worked with a team of designers for more than 7,500 hours to turn 16,500 square metres of fabric into one off pieces for the event.

“Whether it is a film set or stage show, I love immersing myself in different cultures and that is why I love design,” said Ms Kulkarni, who has worked on the set of The Crown, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy.

“I just thrive on the fact that everywhere looks at the human form differently and celebrates it in a different way.

“That’s why coming here was a no-brainer...the diversity is great.”

Ms Kulkarni and her team went through hundreds of old images in the UAE archives to “be as true to Emirati style as possible”.

The show will be in Abu Dhabi on December 2.
The show will be in Abu Dhabi on December 2.

She also met with the General Women’s Union in Abu Dhabi to get more insight into the unique elements for the costume design.

“All our costumes were made in local workshops in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi...for every 100 pieces we make about 20 extra, just in case they don't fit the final theme or the performer,” she said.

“My research taught me that in the early days, Emirati garments were predominantly made with two materials…a toile overlay and then, usually, linen.

“Some abayas also had an extra section on the back to drag along sand so as to not leave footprints…it’s fascinating.”

The National Day spectacular will open in style.

Twelve 2.5 metre puppet camels, operated by 24 Emirati performers walking two-by-two inside each frame, will wander around the huge stage.

Speaking about ‘Legacy of Our Ancestors’, Saeed Al Suwaidi, spokesman for the Organising Committee of the Official 48th UAE National Day Celebration, said the music will be just as unique as the visuals.

“Eight local composers in collaboration with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra produced an original recording for the one-off piece," he said. "More than 80 musicians will fill the stadium with the original soundtrack to the show."

Tickets for the event are priced at Dh60 per person, with children under two, the elderly and those with disabilities attending for free.

Zayed Sports City stadium
Zayed Sports City stadium

Parking will be available in two main areas: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

“Shuttle buses will transport people to the main gates between 4pm and 6.30pm. The main show will start at about 7pm. After the show, the buses depart every 15 minutes from the stadium to the car parks,” Mr Al Suwaidi said.

Tickets for ‘Legacy of Our Ancestors’ are now available at www.uaenationalday.ae, by calling 80086823, or by visiting Virgin Megastores.

Updated: November 24, 2019 07:55 PM

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