Ecstasy y Angustia

Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco, presented by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures. At the Arlington Theatre, Tuesday, December 5.

Reviewed by Heather Carney

Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco brought the Arlington’s guests to their feet on Tuesday night. In her self-titled program, Eva: A Cal y Canto, Eva Yerbabuena and artists transcended the physical rigors of flamenco dance to reveal its raw, yet purposeful passion. The curtain rose to reveal the ensemble of six dancers standing together beneath a spotlight, dressed in pure white dresses and suits. The musicians stood completely still as they played, as if to say, “Look, and watch closely.” It was an irresistible invitation. The ensemble of three women and three men danced fiercely and tightly among one another. A simple turn of the head or shrug of the shoulder bared immense confidence and a glimpse of what was to come. Eva Yerbabuena, dancing alone on the opposite side of the stage, was a mere shadow in the opening piece, “A Cal.” She moved fluidly against the percussive music, setting the precedent early on that she was a solo artiste.

Eva_1.jpgIn Yerbabuena’s first solo, “De la Cava,” she seemed to emerge gradually into the dance. Her slow, continuous rotations of her torso and wrists were mesmerizing, and gave the audience a chance to admire her commanding form. Her ever-shifting postures summoned what is best about being a woman: strong legs planted firmly but lithely in the earth; arms, hands, and fingers moving gracefully through space.

In “Salinas,” Yerbabuena emerged alone again, dressed in an unusual, earth-colored flamenco suit with a hip-hugging skirt, scalloped jacket, and loose scarf gently knotted around her neck. Her costume was reminiscent of the 1940s, while her choreography conjured images of a wildfire caught in the grasp of a fickle wind. Her bold hips and arms tore open the space to the quickening tempo and cries of the musicians. I felt as if Yerbabuena was letting me see somewhere deep inside of her — a place beyond physicality, beyond the effort of the movement. I saw ecstasy and agony revealed through her, and I watched as the passion of flamenco transformed her into the heart of the dance.

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