Eva Yerbabuena, Mercedes de Cordoba, Lorena Franco, Eduardo Guerrero, Fernando Jimenez
As if anyone needed reminding during Sadlers Wells two week long Flamenco Festival, Eva Yerbabuenas Lluvia reveals just how profound this dance form really can be.
Born in Granada, and widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Flamenco dancers of our time, her current show takes us not only to the heart of Andaluca, but right into its deepest valves.
In Lluvia (or Rain) Yerbabuena delves deep inside herself to explore her beginnings, and, in the process, dispels any ideas that Flamenco is only about flashy movements in sangria-scented bars.
The Flamenco on offer here is clean, sharp, edgy; sometimes haunting in its staggering depth, but always captivating in its exemplary execution.
The shows underlying premise is Yerbabuenas belief that she was born out of love, but also within total solitude. It starts with her rising from an almost foetal position, as the other principal dancers do the same behind her only to crumble to the floor once more. The bare stage sports a brick wall backdrop within which lies a heavy door, emphasising Yerbabuenas sense of isolation by suggesting that she is being locked out of something.
As Yerbabuena dances solo, she throws her arms around her head, or outstretches them, with mind-boggling speed and precision. Within these clean movements, it is noticeable just how agile she can make her legs when the occasion demands. She then encounters a man (perhaps a first love), but the two fail to connect as they stand opposite sides of an upright table and desperately try to reach for each other. Further women appear on the scene who might possibly pose a threat to her, but who also seem as disconnected from everything as her.
The mood is then lightened by introducing a more bar-like atmosphere where the women dance with fans and the men with hats. As Yerbabuena stamps and struts, however, we gain a keen sense that she is putting on this outward display for herself and herself only, especially since she tries to escape from the scene at the earliest opportunity.
Courtesy of four strong vocalists, we are treated to authentic Moorish singing, whose roots can ultimately be traced back to the wailing in mosques. The principal singer, Enrique El Extremeno, plays a key role in the final scene as Yerbabuena appears in a black dress with long flowing train and dances opposite him. As she turns, the motions of her arms and train create a whirlwind effect, but it is also striking just how small and intimate many of her movements are.
Indeed, as her exuberant stamping is countered by an ending that sees her exiting the stage all alone, one emerges feeling that the evening has not only scaled the heights of all that Flamenco can offer, but also plummeted to the depths of the human soul.