On Friday night, Sadler’s Wells opened its 10th annual flamenco festival with Eva Yerbabuena. She’d decided to avoid the risk of having lesser (or worse yet better) dancers distract from her performance and did the show solo; a treat, really. Of course we had a band so plenty of time for guitar solos and songs while she rested or changed costumes; but mostly, it was her, on the stage, changing her look by adding a scarf or flipping her sleeves inside-out. The overall approach was stripped down in terms of setting as well, with decor consisting of a large chair-like thing and a table that split in half (in fact although I think it was also a metaphor). Yerbabuena drew us along for a heavy emotional ride, leaving me worn out with sadness from the dance/movement piece she did mostly broken and curled across the tabletop; but she also moved with speed and grace, as absorbing as one could hope from a skilled flamenquera who knows how to use her soul as well as her body, with accessories to add to an effect but not distract from the overall feeling.
A special highlight of this evening was the sing-off between the two male dancers that had the audience in stiches; while their song (about how messed up the world is nowadays) wasn’t too funny, apparently the people in the band were teasing them (“Sing it, fatty!”) and having a good time. Laughter and tears: you could hardly ask for a better opening performance for a flamenco festival.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, March 15th, 2013. The Flamenco Festival continues through March 27th.)