Altice Arena was buzzing on Saturday evening for the first of three consecutive days of performances that will comprise the Jubilee Arts International Talent Showcase.

Four hundred artists representing 20 different jurisdictions will take the stage over the course of the three days, and the first 100 of them performed on night one. Performances included dance, song, spoken word poetry, and more.

Fayyaz Makhani, Director for the International Talent Showcase, was overjoyed to see the work of the artists and the volunteers finally come to fruition.

“From the moment the house lights turned off and the opening sequence came on the screen, until the last note of the finale song and the final applause, it was fantastic,” said Makhani.

Many of the performers had to overcome challenges and struggles to make it to Lisbon to share their talents with the worldwide Jamat, he explained: “To be able to perform on this stage in the manner they did and to be able to exhibit their talent was a tremendous achievement.”

One group with a unique journey was the Ismaili Pipe Band representing Canada. Now living in Saskatchewan, the group’s 19 bagpipe players each came from India, some as recently as six months ago.

Salilali Sunesara, explained that back in Mumbai most of the band members competed against each other, playing with bands for different Jamatkhanas. When Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee year began, they teamed together to perform for Jamati events, not even considering Jubilee Arts at first.

“We never thought we were going to get this far and perform for the Diamond Jubilee Talent showcase,” said the 28-year-old after his team’s performance.

Having recently moved to Canada, the band’s members – between the ages of 20 and 30 – work long hours as they establish themselves in their new country, which doesn’t leave much time for practice. Shahil Karedia explained that the band’s members met at 10:30 PM and practiced until 2:30 or 3 AM at least four times a week in the months leading up to their trip to Lisbon.

All of the performances displayed strong themes, such as the contemporary dance performance by Dream Team from UAE. One of the group’s members, Saniya Aziz, explained how their piece was meant to inspire members of the global Jamat going through hardships.

“We just wanted to say stay positive and stay on the right path,” said the 14-year-old dancer. 
Another dancer from the group, Astha Aziz, was amazed by the response from the thousands of audience members. “Our families were there and the support and everything was wonderful,” said the 15-year-old.

Jubilee Arts Project Lead Jenny Datoo summed it up nicely by saying, “The Jamat has been anticipating celebrating our Ismaili artists together as a global Jamat for months. Experiencing their art gives us a glimpse into the artists’ heart, passion, and world that they live in. What an incredible treasure to share with the global Jamat during this Diamond Jubilee.”

With two nights of International Talent Showcase performances remaining, one thing Makhani guarantees is that the audience will want to get up out of their seats: “We saw a whole lot of dancing today, both in the seats and on the stage.”