Eva Yerbabuena walked alone into the Darkness. The spotlight highlighting her slow zig zag across the stage while a male singer stalked behind her in the shadows, smartly dressed all in black. Yerbabuena swayed and swung her arms and hands to the strains of a violin. It was the first time I’ve seen Flamenco with a violin.
By the end of the scene her hands had flicked and shaken, had seemingly pulled the notes raw from the violin, even the strings themselves, until it was the instrument that danced to the movement of her fingers.
This year is the 10th Anniversary of the London Flamenco Festival and we rolled up on a wet and windy March evening for the opening night.
As usual I had no clue what was going on, but I never let that detract from the show or the enjoyment.
Yerbabuena’s performance intrigued more than usual, her movements reminding me of a toy ballerina. In a Tim Burton movie. Expressive flicks of her wrists, arms and legs out straight and rigid, flopping onto the table or tilted chair while dressed from head to foot in black sent images of Beetlejuice or Coraline running past my eyes. Seeing her use her hands or arms mimicking the violin or guitar drew most of my attention. In a completely less skilled way when I’m out clubbing, I usually do the same thing to the beats, or keys, and to watch someone actually do it and make it seem as if it was her hands that were drawing the sound out of the instrument, rather than my mostly uncoordinated arm flinging, was fascinating to watch.
But Yerbabuena’s footwork, the footwork was incredible. A relentless trot across the stage, a powerful full pirouette that drew rapturous applause from an audience containing a sizeable Spanish contingent demonstrated that Yerbabuena is a master Flamenco dancer, and that she must have calves of steel.
Complimented by a guitarist, percussionist and three male singers, one of whom had a voice that bellowed Flamenco and sounded like it had been crafted from 50 cigarettes a day and good amount of whisky.
By the end of !Ay! the time seemed to fly as fast as Eva Yerbabuena’s feet, the festival has begun.
Full Program here