▶ Su­san Kulka­rni worked with her team for 7,500 hours on ex­trav­a­ganza

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES - KELLY CLARKE

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 en­ter­tain a 20,000-strong crowd at Zayed Sports City in a 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 val­ues.

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

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

Off the 900 per­form­ers on the night, the youngest is 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”.

She also en­gaged with the Gen­eral Women’s Union in Abu Dhabi to get fur­ther 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 Na­tional Day’s Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, 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 are Dh60 per per­son, with chil­dren un­der two, se­nior cit­i­zens and those with dis­abil­i­ties able to at­tend free of charge.

Park­ing will be avail­able at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Abu Dhabi Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre.

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.

Tick­ets are avail­able from www.uae­na­tion­al­day.ae, by call­ing 80086823, or at Vir­gin Me­ga­s­tores.

Per­form­ers will en­ter­tain 20,000 peo­ple at Zayed Sports City in a spec­tac­u­lar 50-minute show on De­cem­ber 2

A huge stage is be­ing built at Zayed Sports City for ‘Legacy of our An­ces­tors’

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