Flamenco Festival London: Eva Yerbabuena ¡AY! at Sadler’s Wells
Eva Yerbabuena returns to London with ¡AY! for two nights only, as part of Flamenco Festival London, held at Sadler’s Wells. The reviews for her 2014 London performances are overwhelmingly positive. The list of awards she has won over her career is astounding: from Time Out’s award for London’s best female dance performance in 1999, to the 2010 Premio Compás del Cante for her lifetime achievements.
Much of the show is experimental. The pace is set with slower numbers heavily focused on braceo (arm work), alternating with faster pieces displaying her precise and rapid footwork. Yerbabuena climbs a large, sloping chair to mimic flight, moving onto dancing on its seat. She writhes emotionally on a table. It appears to bear her weight, yet she effortlessly splits it in two as the song finishes. Costume changes are minimal, though she does put on a simple wrap-around skirt, shawl and headpiece to great effect. The shapes created with these basic pieces on the black, simply lit stage exhibit the creativity of the artist. Her skill is undiluted and her footwork is flawless.
The score, even to the uneducated ear, is outstanding. When Yerbabuena leaves the stage for the only break she allows herself, the musicians step into the limelight. The powerful, tortured vocals resonate with all who hear them. Seville-born guitarist Paco Jarana is also the score’s composer. An indisputable master of the instrument, he began learning flamenco guitar at eight years old. Each chord and beat visibly penetrates Yerbabuena’s body. There is clear cohesion between sound and movement, so perfectly harmonious that it is impossible to divine which came first.
Dance enthusiasts may appreciate the show more than those looking for pure entertainment. Yerbabuena is the only dancer in the show. The costumes are mainly black. Nothing in the show is clichéd; those hoping for red, polka-dot dresses will be sorely disappointed. That is not the flamenco of Yerbabuena. The audience response to the show is impressive: fervid clapping and stamping honour the distinguished artist. ¡AY!’s latest London dates will certainly increase her growing army of fans, with her stylish and highly contemporary take on flamenco.
Eva Yerbabuena: ¡AY! is at Sadler’s Wells until 24th February 2015. Flamenco Festival London is on at Sadler’s Wells until 1st March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.