Review – Lluvia – Eva Yerbabuena, Sadler’s Wells’ Flamenco Festival 2010

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Lluvia, Eva Yerbabuena’s contribution to the 2010 Sadler’s Wells’ Flamenco Festival, was a breath of fresh air after the macho posturings of Nuevo Ballet Espanol. The style was also completely different: it was modern flamenco, with plenty of heel and toe work, but a focus on expressiveness, storytelling, and “pure” dance (of a sort that frequently reminded me of Martha Graham).

We started off with a crowd of people standing in front of a brick wall, and then moved into a scene which was mostly a duet with Eva (I assume) and a tall, slim male dancer (Eduardo Guerrerro). This made me laugh a bit because she started, then he would move in front of her and block her from the audience’s view. Finally, they did a great bit where both of their arms were moving together and it became less of a power struggle, but what I liked is that it was clear that this time, for this performance, it was not going to be about the woman standing in the man’s shadow. It built into a long dance involving a table through which Eva and Eduardo were reaching for each other (it all seemed to be about having a broken heart) which had very little flamenco styling and a lot of modern dance and _lots_ of good music, thoroughly erasing Ballet Nuevo and its cheesy touristic production from my mind.

The most fun of the evening was a long section in which the four supporting dancers (Mercedes de Cordoba, Lorena Franco, Fernando Jimenez, and Eduardo) and Eva “found” a trunk full of costumes, which led to everyone putting on fun, pastelly 20’s style dances and just kind of jamming out to the singers and musicians, who were mostly gathered around a big wooden table. Eduardo played with fans, Eva stole roses, the whole thing was very lighthearted but led to a fantastic solo by Mr. Guerrerro that had the house roaring. He drew circles in the air with his hands, he shook his shoulders, he played with flicking his jacket off, he was NOT just about fancy footwork, he was totally centering the energies of the four singers surrounding him. It didn’t even feel like the piece was “about” him, he was just having a good time dancing, and the energy really carried.

The final piece had Eva wearing a gorgeous black dress with a ruffled skirt trailing behind it and rhinestones up the side, a truly amazing outfit that had her looking like a Spanish Odile – I could have easily have imagined it covered with feathers! She showed a real expertise at what I imagine to be a very difficult Flamenco style – the skirt really gets in the way, frequently forcing the dancer to stay in one position, and motion requires constant attention to moving the train of the skirt. But she was able to flick it around like a kitten with a ball of string. She stood and arched and worked her hands because she wanted to, because she wanted to make a beautiful image with her skirt curling behind her, and when she wanted to move or change direction, the tiny kick to move it was as unnoticable as a flick of her fingers. But she also understood how to make the dress work with the dance, at one point kicking it off to the left and then turning herself to the right so it wrapped around her ankles like waves around a rock.

Eva really gave it all to this long solo and I felt it showed off her skills and personality tremendously. It also emphasized to me the overall superior artistic merit of her “backing band” – I believe that they, and the dancers working with her, felt that to be in this ensemble meant working at a high level of artistry, one they could feel proud being a part of. Enrique El Extremeno, Pepe de Pura, Jeromo Segura and Jose Valencia sang so well that they made me wish I could have bought a CD just to enjoy their great voices. I think Eva wore herself out during her long solo – there was a break at one point, and when she started again, she wasn’t able to recapture the fire. But it was the end of a long evening and I felt it was only fair for her to be tired. I had certainly enjoyed myself – the fresh choreography, great flamenco, and high spirits of this group were well worth watching.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 – the final performance of this group. The Sadler’s Wells 2010 Flamenco Festival continues through February 27th.)

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2 Responses to “Review – Lluvia – Eva Yerbabuena, Sadler’s Wells’ Flamenco Festival 2010”

  1. Review – Maria Pagés and Company – 2010 Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] better and better groups as the flamenco festival progresses; it was even better than the very fine Eva Yerbabuena a few days ago and leaps away from Nuevo Ballet […]

  2. Review – Eva Yerbabuena, “Cuando Yo Era” – 2011 Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] (though a good support bra would have done wonders); artistically, limp. Wah. Still, as she was my favorite performer of last year, there is no doubt that I will be coming to watch her […]

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