Posts Tagged ‘Flamenco Festival London 2010’

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

February 20, 2010

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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Review – Nuevo Ballet Español – 2010 Flamenco Festival, Sadler’s Wells

February 15, 2010

Today my husband and I went to see Nuevo Ballet Español’s “Cambio de Tercio” at Sadler’s Wells as part of our Valentine’s Day celebration. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on going to this show … I had two other things bought for the 2010 Flamenco festival and finances compelled me to keep it tight. However, given the rapacious pricing for dinners out in town, it seemed to me that a nice, back of house seat at Sadler’s Wells would be a lot less financially painful, and I could just make dinner at home afterwards (as it was a 4 PM matinee) and pretend like I’d planned it that way all along.

The evening opened with some good lighting marking two different areas on stage with two men in them getting dressed in what looked like Spanish cowboy clothes. The lights then flashed up to reveal the band on the edges of the stage, and four women in addition to the men (the whole troupe), who, well, of course, danced a bit.

I tend to think of Flamenco as being a dance style that is really more about solos than group work, but Cambio de Terco had lots and lots of mostly unison dancing, especially by the women. In fact, none of the women got solos – well, there was a bit where a woman in a dress covered with roses swirled around a man playing a violin, but the women came off almost strictly as background color. During the dance in which they were wearing long white dresses and whirling red and white shawls around and over themselves, they were truly amazing background color, but overall the effect was too much like a touristic tablao of the sort you might see with dinner in Madrid. The singing, however, was good, and I was quite moved by a solo with the thinner woman and the violinist – I could only understand about a third of what she was saying, but I was having a hard time holding the tears back.

The solo work was where this night had its bright moments (aside from the bit with the shawls). Angel Rojas (I think – from the picture in the program I’m not sure) did a solo in which he stood in front of the two singers and one clapper and started slowly with his heels, encouraging them to sing faster, then slower, getting that really intense jazzy improv thing going on between the musicians and himself that really electrified the stage, until he was really dancing like mad and the whole room was full of energy. Woo!
Then later Carlos Rojas did a dance (to some teeka tintal drumming and, shock!, rap) that at one point had him doing a series of turns on his knees (well on one knee), ending each rotation with a different leg in front. Impressive!

However, for the final dance, the men came on dressed as Spanish house painters (or so it seemed to me as everyone was wearing a white hat), with the women in dresses that had the fronts completely cut away to show their bras, a costuming choice I found revolting. While the colorful skirts were fun, I loathed the women’s outfits, which made their breasts jiggle ridiculously while they stamped their feet. I’ve always seen Flamenco as being such a dignified performance style for women, but it seemed Rojas and Rodriguez were perfectly content to strip that away in order to make a more amusing spectacle. And, hey, it’s not like the women were anymore than background color anyway. In the program notes, it said “Cambio de Tercio” is “a departure from the testosterone-dominated create collaborations of the past,” but I found it had a long way to go to be anything more than a showcase for themselves.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Sunday, February 14th, 2010. February 15th is the last day for this show. The 2010 Flamenco festival continues through February 27th, 2010. Don’t miss it!)