Yerbabuena opens the 25th edition of the Festival de Jerez
The most import flamenco and Spanish dance festival in the world has come back to life with an extraordinary program. And this landmark edition was opened by the grande dame Eva Yerbabuena
Fourteen and one half months ago we received the news that a large group of foreign tourists headed for the 2020 Festival de Jerez had cancelled their plans due to problems related to a virus. At that time, no one imagined the actual magnitude of what was in store for us. Now, May 6th, 2021, sitting at my computer, the opening of the 25th edition of the Festival de Jerez feels like a major triumph. “The Festival of your Dreams” as the introductory theme song used to say at the beginning of each show, was the last event of its kind to be held in a normal fashion, and one of the first to return after only a slight delay. The most import flamenco and Spanish dance festival in the world has come back to life with an extraordinary program. And this landmark edition was opened by the grande dame Eva Yerbabuena, who has so often delighted her admirers in the historic Villamarta theater where she claims to feel supported and protected: “we’re playing in our own court” she said at the presentation.
On Thursday morning, Fermín Lobatón presented his book Bailando en Plata, 25 años del Festival de Jerez. A wonderful piece of work that commemorates the Festival’s quarter century reached with this edition of the event.
Getting down to the specifics… For the above-mentioned reasons, excitement was high the evening of the opening. It was the return of the Festival de Jerez, impossible not to feel this was a historic event that went beyond flamenco. Al igual que tú is the title of Yerbabuena’s work billed as an “absolute premier performance”, in other words, a show which is still green and untested – I can’t grasp the fascination with premier performances. But the Granada dancer gives and demands perfection in everything she does, and her stage sense is perfectly matched with her flamenco vision.
This new work is pure Eva: long silences, darkness, soul-searching expressed through modern dance, an oppressive melancholy only made bearable thanks to the glorious flamenco moment that is sure to come. Without a doubt, Eva Yerbabuena is one of the best flamenco dancers of this century, but she releases drop by drop the elixir of the art she knows so well. When Paco Jarana’s guitar rings out, and the voices of singers Luis Moneo, Miguel Ortega and Alfredo Tejada begin to sound, all three exceptional, it’s soleá por bulería ended with soleá, and flamenco declares its powerful presence. That’s when you feel the audience¡s collective excitement. Eva also dances free-form granaínas with abandolao, and there’s a bit of siguiriyas as well. Flamenco inhabits Eva Yerbabuena, and everything else is superfluous.
There are noteworthy collaborations of dancer Fernando Suels Mendoza, singer Sandra Carrasco and the intelligent percussion of Antonio Coronel, in addition to Rafael Heredia and the special collaboration of Ella Garry.
Best wishes to the Festival de Jerez on its silver anniversary, congratulations to all those responsible, and here’s to another 25 years.
Thursday 6 May, 8.30pm. Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera. Eva Yerbabuena “Al igual que tú”. Guest artists: Fernando Suels Mendoza and Luis Moneo. Cante: Miguel Ortega, Alfredo Tejada. Special collaboration: Sandra Carrasco. Percussion: Antonio Coronel, Rafael Heredia. Music composition and director: Paco Jarana. Script: Alfonso Zurro. Premier performance.