Eva Yerbabuena © Ruben Martin
Eva Yerbabuena
© Ruben Martin
Arguably one of the most influential female artists in contemporary flamenco, Eva Yerbabuena is known for having a unique approach to flamenco, which includes dramatising storylines, creating group choreography and mixing dance styles in her works. She tours worldwide, both as a solo artist and with her company Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco, and is celebrated internationally with resounding critical acclaim. 

Yerbabuena originally studied dramatic arts with Juan Furest and Jesús Domínguez, later travelling to Cuba to learn choreography with Johannes García. Since her training, Yerbabuena has collaborated with Manolete, Merche Esmeralda, Javier Latorre, Joaquín Cortés, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Pina Bausch. Yerbabuena established her company, Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco in 1998 with her husband, guitarist Paco Jarana, as musical director.

¡Ay! © Ruben Martin
¡Ay!
© Ruben Martin

Last year, Yerbabuena was nominated and shortlisted for Best Female Performer of Dance in the 2014 National Dance Awards (UK), which is the first time a flamenco artist has been selected since the awards were established in 2000/2001.

Yerbabuena opened the 10th London Flamenco Festival last year at Sadler’s Wells, with her solo piece ¡Ay!, which she will be performing at this year’s Jerez festival later this month. Having toured extensively and performed at several major flamenco festivals worldwide, I was curious to hear her thoughts on how one festival compares to another. 

When asked about the atmosphere at Jerez compared with the atmosphere in London, Yerbabuena stated: “Jerez and London are two cities, two theatres and two completely different events. I do not like comparisons, because every place is unique, and feels and lives in a very special way.” However, “I've always said that Jerez is a special place to me, and every time I have premiered a show there, it has done very well. I like the energy there and I feel at home.”

¡Ay! © Ruben Martin
¡Ay!
© Ruben Martin

Yerbabuena’s relationship with her audience is key to her experience of the performance event, wherever she dances. “Personally I think the energy generated in a theatre, by both the public and the artists, is very important. We depend a lot on one another, and I cannot evaluate a single representation alone, but the experience after many meetings. Every day, every place and every audience creates a unique atmosphere.” 

Development, both as a solo performer and as creator and choreographer of group pieces, remains key to Yerbabuena’s relationship with her various audiences. “The atmosphere is defined by the audience. For the artist... both appointments will be an opportunity to experiment and share their feelings and experiences, while the audience can see our evolution, our trajectory as artists.”

Eva Yerbabuena and singers in ¡Ay! © Daniel Perez
Eva Yerbabuena and singers in ¡Ay!
© Daniel Perez

Looking to the future is perhaps what inspires a performer – whether dancer, musician, or opera singer – to aspire to improve and, in Yerbabuena's case, to continue creating new work. “To me, there is no favorite festival, and all festivals I have performed at are really special. I think that the favorite is always the one to come. Whether I have not been or if I have performed there before, to me is always exciting and I get the hope of returning.”