See the hottest name in dance
From Broadway theatres to TED conferences, Camille A Brown (25 April) seemingly owns any stage she glides onto. An it girl of contemporary dance, there’s also a lot of substance behind the New York native’s multi-award-winning performances: by putting her spin on ancestral storytelling, she sets out to reclaim the cultural narrative of African American identity. Fresh from collaborations with John Legend (on NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar) and Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin McCraney (Broadway musical Choir Boy), this month Brown leads her dance company into the spotlight for one night only at NYUAD Arts Center. Expect a hybrid of technical modern and African social dance, with flourishes of hip hop, jazz, tap and salsa. It all adds up to a unique choreographic fusion.
Visit a royal palace
Qasr Al Watan, the Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi, the meeting place for the UAE Cabinet and the official office of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is now open to the public (10am-8pm, daily). Part of it, anyway. Included with every Palace & Garden ticket, guided tours pack in a visit to the House of Knowledge and the vast state library.
Attend a piano recital
A stellar season of Abu Dhabi Classics rounds off with a recital by rising star Ran Jia (19 April). Few have interpreted Franz Schubert’s sonatas with such aplomb as this Chinese pianist. A precocious talent who began lessons aged three, Jia has been lauded as a “piano poet with dramatic skill in music making” by Tan Dun, the maestro behind films scores such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Now the Shanghai-born soloist takes to the stage at Manarat Al Saadiyat with Schubert’s Sonatas in D major D850 and in B flat major 960 – two of her signature pieces – along with Three Preludes for Solo Piano by contemporary composer Daqun Jia (who happens to be her father).
Eat the best cake in Abu Dhabi
Vanilla is not a byword for boring at Cipriani; its signature dessert tops three pillowy layers of crème pâtissière and sponge with a cloud of Italian meringue. Order a Bellini alongside the vanilla meringue cake and you’re definitely living la dolce vita.
Feel the rush of race day
Formula 1 has long been a major fixture for Abu Dhabi petrolheads, but there’s a new high-octane contest revving up at the Yas Marina Circuit this spring as the FIA World Rallycross Championship (5–6 April) makes its Middle-East debut. This sprint-style, mixed-track racing sees compact road cars accelerating from 0–100kmph in two seconds. Think: a Hyundai i20 or Ford Fiesta highly modified by expert engineers and driven by daredevils. Throw in some seriously tight turns, drifting shows and dramatic jumps to put the small-but-mighty motors through their paces and it adds up to one exhilarating spectacle – and an awful lot of dust. No wonder World Rallycross already has such a following in Nordic and Western Europe. Part of the legendary Formula 1 circuit has been modified to host the two-day event. Off the track, live music stages, food trucks and go-kart challenges keep crowds entertained, plus meet-and-greets with the faces behind the motors.