Abu Dhabi, 29 January 2024: The Abu Dhabi Festival 2024 opened its doors to a spectacular ballet performance of Chinese New Year, a mesmerising version of Tchaikovsky's classic, The Nutcracker, by the renowned National Ballet of China. Co-presented by the Abu Dhabi Festival and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United Arab Emirates, the two performances, on 26 and 27 January, were an overwhelming success.
The National Ballet of China, founded in 1959, demonstrated its creativity and expertise in front of a packed audience by delivering a wonderfully inventive interpretation of the beloved Nutcracker. The performance was graced by the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan and His Excellency Zhang Yiming, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the UAE. Rooted in the traditions of Russian ballet, the company's artists entranced the audience with their outstanding talent and precision.
The ballet opened with a vividly colourful scene set at a temple fair in Beijing, where the anticipation of the New Year celebration was palpable. The stage came alive with masks and paper lanterns, immersing the audience in the festive atmosphere. As the performance progressed, the journey led the viewers through enchanting fairy lands, including the Kingdom of the Crane and the Porcelain Kingdom. The narrative unfolded with captivating elements such as monsters, little tigers, a graceful Dance of Fans, a whirling Dance of Spinning Tops, and a glittering Dance of Gold Ingots, building up to a thrilling conclusion marked by an explosion of firecrackers.
Her Excellency Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, the founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and the founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival states: “We are delighted to present one of the world's premier ballet companies, the National Ballet of China, showcasing their innovative interpretation of Tchaikovsky's renowned masterpiece, The Nutcracker during the grand opening night of the 21st Abu Dhabi Festival, as a special tribute to China, the festival's honoured guest country. The presentation, spanning two consecutive days, is a collaborative effort with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the UAE.
This performance beautifully reflects the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization, highlighting its cultural values, creative characteristics and deep-rooted intellectual heritage. It underscores the festival's commitment to providing a platform for the convergence of diverse cultures in the United Arab Emirates. The show, seamlessly blending the splendour of Chinese traditions with the elegance of contemporary ballet, embodies the efforts of cultural diplomacy.
It signifies our commitment to enriching the vision of the UAE, building bridges for cultural exchange and dialogue, and fostering an appreciation for the arts as a universal language.'
His Excellency Zhang Yiming, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the UAE commented: “This is a ground-breaking tour and a historic performance. It is not only the first time that the National Ballet of China visit the UAE, but also the first time that our ballet arts enter the Gulf region and the Middle East. The company is telling Chinese stories to the world on our stage.”
In the celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, the Abu Dhabi Festival 2024 is honoured to have the steadfast support of esteemed patrons. The festival is held under the Founding Honorary patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan.
The co-presentation by the Abu Dhabi Festival and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United Arab Emirates highlighted the festival's commitment to fostering cultural exchange and collaboration on an international scale. The successful collaboration brought together the vibrant energy of the Chinese New Year with the world-class artistry of the National Ballet of China for the first time in the Arab World, creating an unforgettable experience for audiences.
As the Abu Dhabi Festival 2024 continues, we anticipate further outstanding performances, reinforcing the festival's position as a global hub for cultural excellence and diversity.