BWW Reviews: Eva Yerbabuena at 2014 Flamenco Festival
The legendary bailaora Eva Yerbabuena and her company Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco transport audiences to the wonder of melancholy in Lluvia (Rain), part of this year's Flamenco Festival at City Center. A tribute to "...the coldness, to being alive, to the endlessness of life," this evening length work features Yerbabuena, Lorena Franco, Mercedes De Córdoba, Christian Lozano and Eduardo Guerrero, set to live musical accompaniment.
Shrouded in a hazy blue light, a large ensemble of dancers stand still and in profile. A spotlight shifts our focus to Yerbabuena, who wearing a long red dress, emerges from the audience and begins a despondent, barefoot walk to the stage. She winds through the motionless chorus until she begins an energetic, sweeping phrase that brings her to the floor on her side facing upstage, legs and arms lengthened, feet flexed as if she is paralyzed by fear. The rest of her company soon joins the phrase in canon; Franco and Córdoba's hair is long and, like their skirts, dramatically catches the air as they fall to the ground. Yerbabuena's influence from tanztheater pioneer Pina Bausch is clear in this sequence. As a choreographer, Yerbabuena's strength lies in her ability to incorporate a spectrum of movement vocabularies while keeping Flamenco's distinct sensibilities intact. The duende remains.
Though mediation on the melancholy remains at the core of Lluvia, the traditionally festive Alegrías, Lluvia de sal, reminds us of the positively transformative power of deep pain. This section features standout performances by Yerbabuena and her company members. Eduardo Guerrero seductively moves his hips while his arms curl and release and around him like ribbons. His braceo (armwork) is rich, floral and dynamic; he rightfully disposes of any adherence to gender-specific physicality. Celebration of life and its endlessness stretch to every corner of the stage, and the soaring vocal accompaniment from Jose Valencia, Enrique "El extremeño" and Juan José Amador rouse infectious ¡olés! and ¡vamos ya! from the audience.
Lluvia ends as it began. The large ensemble returns and once again stands profile. Yerbabuena takes her last walk on stage, then heads to audience and casually makes her way up the aisle to the back exit. Rupturing the fourth wall, she reminds us that Flamenco is not a performance; it is life, in all of its sadness and glory.
Photo Credit: Esplanade Theaters on the Bay