‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
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Record-breaking show heralds an entertainment bonanza as General Entertainment Authority (GEA) lists more than 5,000 events. (AN Photo)
Updated 10 March 2018
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‘Spirit of the Dance’ stars dazzle audiences in Riyadh with Irish, Falmenco fused rhythms

RIYADH: Music-lovers took a dazzling journey from past to present at the King Fahd Cultural Center as “Spirit of the Dance” fused traditional Irish song and dance with fiery flamenco and sultry tango rhythms.
The award-winning dance performance — now in its 20th year — has been seen by more than 30 million people around the world and has broken box office records in more than 20 countries.
“Spirit of the Dance” is being staged in the Kingdom for the first time by the Knight Group together with the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which last month announced an entertainment bonanza, with more than 5,000 events scheduled this year.
Knight Group founder and CEO Fouad Halabi told Arab News: “The GEA has been very helpful showcasing this world-famous show. For us, as an organizer and producer, it was not feasible at the beginning to bring such a great show here, but the GEA was instrumental in understanding how the show should be organized to respect both the local and Irish culture.
“Now we are very excited about this breathtaking show. We hope after seeing the performances, people will learn about the Irish culture,
about this art.”
The GEA was established in line with the goals of Vision 2030 to diversify the entertainment sector and broaden the range of entertainment options. Opera and jazz have been featured recently.
“Spirit of the Dance” will travel to Jeddah for performances on March 15-16 at the King Abdullah Economic City.
The Irish ambassador in Riyadh, Tony Cotter, one of several diplomats at Thursday’s show, said: “I am happy to see the amount of social change taking place in Saudi Arabia — it is fantastic to see famous Irish dance being performed on stage in the Kingdom.”
Commenting on the Kingdom’s growing entertainment sector, Cotter said: “There is a huge development in this area. The GEA is doing a superb job bringing different forms of entertainment to the Kingdom — we have seen opera, jazz concert, now this ‘Spirit of the Dance’ show. I can see a bright future for the entertainment sector here.”
The “Spirit of the Dance” stars mesmerized their audience, delivering the powerful rhythms of Irish dance combined with the passionate Latino rhythms of tango, flamenco, and red-hot salsa.
Jameela Balahmar, a marketing specialist with Mobily, told Arab News: ” I am a big fan of the Irish dance, and was really excited to watch this event. Now, seeing it live, is truly an amazing experience for me and my generation, especially for women in Saudi Arabia.”
The show coincided with International Women’s Day.
“Earlier, we were having to watch it on YouTube and television or travel to experience it. Thanks to the GEA and the Knight Group for bringing it here — making a dream come true to watch it live in my hometown.”
Abdullah Ramadhan, a project manager with the IT giant Dell, said: “This show is absolutely amazing. Everybody applauds the efforts of the GEA. For a long time, we were not exposed to different cultures and lifestyles in the world, so it makes a lot of sense now as the world moves closer to be more and more connected. It is good that our authorities are now inviting famous groups from various parts of the world so we can experience their culture and learn about their society.
“Assimilation of cultures from different parts of the world with our local heritage is important. If you are exposed to different cultures, it is a good learning experience,” he said.


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 7 min 52 sec ago
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”