Stage One Pushes Creative Limits for UAE National Day

Photo: Nicolas Chavance

Stage One Creative Services has delivered stage engineering for the hero centrepiece at UAE’s 50th National Day celebrations. The show, which took place on 2 December, marked the country’s Golden Jubilee as the largest celebration to date.

The floating theatrical experience – designed by award-winning artist, Es Devlin – is situated on Hatta Dam in the Hajar Mountains. Stage One engineered, fabricated, installed and is operating the hero rotating stage, which hosts the cast. The floating disc-shaped sculpture, which is 19m tall at its highest point, doubles up as a performance area and projection surface.

The key challenge was engineering a heavy steel structure that will remain balanced in a cantilevered state on a floating pontoon. This was achieved through judicious structural and marine engineering and a hefty serving of ballast. To allow the disc to revolve, it was constructed on top of three concentric track rings and is driven by four motors. The movement is controlled by Stage One’s proprietary automation system, Qmotion.

Starting work in July, the sculpture was designed, built and transported to the remote location in just three months, with teams arriving to install in early September. Once fully loaded on site with scenery, reflective water pool and performers, the disc weighs in at almost 300 tonnes.

This is the second consecutive year Stage One has contributed to the UAE National Day live event celebrations alongside Artistic Director and Designer Es Devlin, Technical Designers Wonder Works and Official UAE 50th Celebration Producer LarMac PROJECTS, having worked with the same team in 2020 on ‘The Seed’.

Managing Director at Stage One, Tim Leigh, commented: “It was an audacious concept from the get-go. Engineering something like this is one thing, engineering under pressure to hit an immovable deadline is another. The location alone created particular challenges; being in the desert, in the mountains, in a remote setting. I’m a big believer that being among friends breeds bravery, so working with the same team as last year meant a seemingly impossible idea, whilst incredibly challenging, felt achievable.”

Creative Director at LarMac PROJECTS, Jo MacKay, added: “Working with Stage One last year with Artistic Director and Designer Es Devlin’s rotating cube enabled us to work together to fine tune another ambitious rotating project with a lot more challenges. It was delivered by a methodical and hardworking Stage One team. We are all in total awe of the Hatta mountains and the show we have produced as a collective team.”