XV FESTIVAL DE JEREZ
Text: Estela Zatania
Last night the 15th Festival de Jerez reached its conclusion with the Ballet Flamenco of Eva Yerbabuena and her most recent work, “Cuando yo era…”. According to official statistics, there were 145 activities distributed among 22 venues, with a total number of 34,150 participants from 40 different countries. Although Jerez is cante country, and is relatively short on dance, this event dedicated to flamenco and Spanish dance is the most important of its kind.
With a program of 16 days, the second week not only felt the effects of heavy rains, but like the rest of the world we were deeply affected by the natural tragedy suffered in Japan, and expressed our solidarity with the numerous Japanese friends who each year attend the festival and who today, Sunday, will have a difficult return trip, both logistically and emotionally.
EVA BUENA BALLET FLAMENCO “CUANDO YO ERA…”
Dance: Eva Yerbabuena. Corps de ballet: Mercedes de Córdoba, Eduardo Guerrero, Fernando Jiménez. Cante: Pepe de Pura, Jeromo Segura, Moi de Morón. Guitar: Paco Jarana, Manuel de la Luz. Percussion: Manuel José Muñoz “El Pájaro”, Raúl Domínguez. Original idea and choreography: Eva Yerbabuena. Music director: Paco Jarana. Stage director: Juan Ruesga, Eva Yerbabuena.
The work “Cuando yo era…” debuted in October of last year at the Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla. Last night at the Villamarta we saw a performance of the same show which has been modified in the right direction, now more coherent, and with less clay – that which spun around on the potter’s wheel and had the dancer obsessed in October – and more dancing – that which the lady withheld that same night, because although in nearly everyone’s opinion, Yerbabuena is the best flamenco dancer of our time, she has the exasperating habit of dawdling with confused symbolism, melancholy that lacks credibility or pseudo “modern” dance. As one veteran dancer now living in Jerez said upon leaving the theater: “I came to Jerez to see flamenco, not this”.
You always miss a little spontaneity in Eva’s work where each blink of an eye, each breath, each finger movement has a response in the music or percussion. It’s a system that guarantees there won’t be any really bad moments…but there aren’t likely to be any really great ones either. The experience is comparable to watching a porcelain ballerina twirling in music box…eternally perfect, eternally lifeless.
But this time we were able to enjoy a few minutes of Eva Yerbabuena’s dancing, and you can be sure it was worth the wait, because when this woman puts her mind to it, you forget all about her bathing in the muddy soup, the “executions” at the beginning of the work, the human cockfight when any remotely Spanish aesthetic flies out the window (well-done, but what’s it doing in this show?) and the Charlie Chaplin imitation por bulerías (ditto). An extremely long scene and dance with medieval carnival ambience makes this work an apt candidate for any world music festival.
Everything, absolutely everything is forgiven with Eva’s sublime tangos and serrana, Jeromo Segura’s fandangos and Paco Jarana’s exquisite music.
The discreet closing to this mega event was the flamenco cuadro of Paco de Jerez at the Peña la Zúa, and well into the following morning several afterhours watering holes were filled with flamenco fans to say goodbye to the 2011 Festival de Jerez amidst singing and dancing.