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Eva Yerbabuna and Ballet Flamenco

Flamenco Festival

by Preeti Vasudevan

January 29, 2005 -- City Center, New York

A few years ago, watching Carlos Saura’s 1983 film Carmen revealed to me the dramatic tension in the filming and creation of a famous piece. Watching a group of Flamenco dancers assembled to rehearse the famous play Carmen allowed me to travel easily between my present time and a time in Spain that was about passion and social upheaval. In the recreation of old stories, the magic of a new creation lies not in a simple reconstruction, but in the passion of the director who constantly makes the community shift with the old story thereby renewing them in the present time. On January 29 th at The City Center, I was reminded once again of the magic of creation-in-performance with Eva Yerbabuena and Ballet Flamenco.

Every year, the World Music Institute and Miguel Marin Productions celebrate the tradition and contemporary voices from Spain through their Flamenco Festival, sharing the passion of the visiting artists with New York City . That Flamenco is an art form with a traveling history is revealed in the unique and emergent language of the old and new in Eva Yerbabuena. This artist who has the intensity of the rhythms of life from various cultures is on a constant quest seeking to experience life’s ultimate concentrate. Like everything else in Spain , life is a passionate celebration and Eva’s dramatic evening of Ballet Flamenco left us with a rich-bodied taste of some of the best flavors of today’s emerging Flamenco.

A story needs to be personal in order to share a true experience with its listeners. A promising storyteller, Eva’s opening solo with a Gramophone was reminiscent of generations of artists using the music to live each moment of liberation that the music and dance has to offer. Reaching beyond good technique and graceful movement, Eva’s gestures were like a magician’s, weaving and creating characters that appeared and vanished within the timeless tapestry. The final result was a deep nothingness that spoke volumes and filled the performance space with the breath of the Flamenco community.

If dance is the manifestation of the story in a physical form, then music is its soul. Three singers distanced only by the lighting gathered the rules of the voice unfolded the next layer of performance. As if created by the mind, dancers weaved through the ensemble of musicians awakening the sounds of the floor and charging the story into frenzy, living purely for the present.

Creative staging is the element of theater. Marrying the dance and music together with it creates the dramatic tension that gives dance a true timelessness. The evening at City Center had a very powerful grasp of this quality, moving from deep and dark moments to more playful ones constantly keeping the edge of the performance alive. Lighting designed by Raul Perotti enhanced the subtleties of the musicians and dancers’ gestures while also playing with the textured costumes and starkness of the stage.

Ultimately, the stories were a dialogue between the storytellers and the listeners and the unfurling of it became the artistic exchange between the two. With each resounding wave of applause, the audience entered deeper into Eva’s relationship with Flamenco and their binding journey together. The emotions exchanged through similar experiences left an ephemeral sentiment that was created purely in the performance space that made you leave with the sensations experienced in concentrated time and space.

Edited by Holly Messitt

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