Entertainment

'Legacy of Our Ancestors' show is grand: Here's what you need to know

'Legacy of Our Ancestors' show is grand: Here's what you need to know
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Legacy of Our Ancestors
';Legacy of Our Ancestors'; promises to be a spectacular show. The nearly-hour long display will be a key part of 48th UAE National Day celebrations in the capital on December 2 at Zayed Sports City, and has been months in the making. It is being organised by the Organising Committee of the Official 48th UAE National Day celebration in collaboration with Flash Entertainment. Image Credit: Supplied
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The show focuses on the values passed down through generations of Emiratis. While not much has been revealed about its narrative, Saeed Al Suwaidi, representative of the Organising Committee, said the aim of the production is to shed light on the beautiful morals and values Emiratis cherish till today. One can only guess that the traditional Emirati hospitality, tolerance for all, and respect for elders will be some of the elements highlighted. Image Credit: Supplied
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The scale is grand. The show will be held at the Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi, and it will absolutely fill up the massive venue. About 10,000 square metres of staging have been created inside the stadium, equivalent to the size of eight Olympic –sized swimming pools. More than 2,500 LED lights will light up the stage, and 1,000 light fixtures have been connected. There are also 22 screens, each 12 metres high, to bring the production alive. And then there are the things the audience cannot even see. “There is an entire city under the stage and scenic elements,” said Michael Scott-Mitchell, production designer. Image Credit: Supplied
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The human effort is just as massive. A team of 900 performers will be part of the show, but it has taken around 5,000 people to put the show together, from costume designers, prop makers, performers, producers and musicians. More than 1,700 hours of rehearsals have already been completed, and 7,200 have been spent designing and making costumes for all. Interestingly, the team hails from 50 different countries. The youngest performer is seven years old, and the oldest is more than 60. Image Credit: Supplied
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It will be a treat for music lovers. The show has an original score developed by eight composers, in collaboration with British instrumentalists, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. More than 80 musicians lent their skills to the actual recording of this soundtrack, which will emanate from 250 speakers at the venue on National Day. Image Credit: Supplied
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The moon is a major thematic element of the show. You can’t miss it, with a giant LED moon element at the backdrop of the stage, and 12 aerial moons hanging all over the stage from overhead cabling. We hear performers will also sport handheld moons as the story is told. “There are resonances of the moon all through traditional Arabic poetry, and since this poetry was the inspiration for the narrative, these moons fit right in as we built the dreamscape,” said Scott-Mitchell. Image Credit: Supplied
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The costumes are as authentic as possible. More than 1,700 costumes have been made in local workshops for the performers and their understudies, and each is as true-to-life as possible. Susan Kulkarni, the show’s costume designer, started her research in the United Kingdom, going through collections of pictures of the UAE from its pre-oil era. These include works by renowned orientalists like Sir Wilfred Thesiger and Ronald Codrai, and royal photographer Noor Al Rashid. “I learnt volumes as a I did my research, and have tried to incorporate as much of it as possible. For example, I learnt that women’s traditional garments had a longer train to cover up their footprints in their sand as they walked. And that their burkhas had a blue ointment on the underside for moisturisation,” Kulkarni said. About 20 kilometres of handwoven fabric braid, known as talli, were produced to decorate the women’s outfits, and these garments are made of two layers, just as they were made back in the day. “The upper layer is from tulle, and the inner garment is made from cotton or linen. They are fastened on the side for ease of dressing,” the designer explained. Image Credit: Supplied
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Legacy of Our Ancestors
The performers will look very much like Emiratis of the pre-oil UAE. Their hairstyles will be very faithful to the UAE’s history, including a multi-braid ceremonial hairstyle donned by Emirati girls on special occasions. “It’s unique, with two braids hanging in the front, and four braids woven together at the back. And while we will use modern-day makeup for the stage, the performers’ looks will mirror the kohl-underlined eyes of traditional dwellers of the area,” Kulkarni said. Image Credit: Supplied
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A virtual prop-making factory has been in operation to enhance the show’s visual experience. A total of 1,800 props have been produced, including mock-ups for rehearsals and final props for the actual performance. They include traditional daggers, oysters with pearls, gahwa sets, woven baskets, models of sailboats, handheld moons, belts and palm fronds. There are also 12 life-size camels that will be operated by three people during the show. They may be made of coloured Styrofoam, but they sure look mighty real, with individually blinking eyelashes and well-articulated joints. Finally, a life-size whale – 19 metres in length – will also feature, and will be operated by 26 cast members. Image Credit: Supplied
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';Legacy of our Ancestors'; will be performed at Zayed Sports City on December 2 after 6.30pm. Gates open at 4pm. Parking will be available at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Shuttles will transport ticket holders to the venue. Tickets are priced Dh60 per person. People with special needs, the elderly and children aged 2 years or less can attend free. Tickets can be purchased at Virgin Megastore, or by calling 80086823, or by visiting www.uaenationalday.ae. Image Credit: Supplied