Two of Spain’s most thrilling and celebrated performers, Eva Yerbabuena and Estrella Morente come to Zellerbach Hall with two separate March performances set just days apart. Both artists embody a fierce contemporary spin on the distinctive features of flamenco. On March 12 at 8:00 p.m., Ballet Flamenco Eva Yerbabuena takes the stage with explosive footwork, powerful movements, and innovative choreography. Yerbabuena is the winner of six major Spanish choreographic awards and has performed worldwide in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Theâtre de la Ville, and Opera de Dusseldorf. “At the heart of her performance is a fierce, dark rigour that accumulates a thrilling power,” wrote London’s The Independent. Flamenco vocalist Estrella Morente appears two days later on March 14 at 8:00 p.m. with a program consisting of “Pregón de Las Moras,” “La Habanera Impossible,” and “La Estrella” from her Grammy-nominated Autorretrato (2012), among other pieces. Yerbabuena and Morente will be flanked by world-class accompanists—guitarist Paco Jarana and four members of the Carbonell family, respectively.
In her innovative choreography, Eva Yerbabuena revitalizes traditional flamenco using new dynamic structures without sacrificing the rhythmic intensity and dramatic aspects of the style. She connects with the music on an emotional level and embodies the soulfulness essential to flamenco. Yerbabuena has been dancing flamenco professionally for nearly 20 years. In 1998 she formed her own dance company, the Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco, which has toured in Brazil, Chile, England, France, India, Japan, Peru, South Korea, and the United States. The program’s feature work, “Lluvia,” translates to “Rain.” “Born on a gray day of pure melancholy,” Yerbabuena says this original, moving work “is a tribute to melancholy and coldness, to being alive, to the endlessness of life.” She has won three MAX Stage Arts Awards (2004, 2005, and 2010) and has achieved lifetime honors including the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s Premio Nacional de Danza (2001), the Andalusian Medalla de Cultura (2007), and Premio Compás del Cante (2010).
The Grenada-born daughter of flamenco singer Enrique Morente and dancer Aurora Carbonell, Estrella Morente has been performing since age seven and made her solo debut at 17. With a wealth of knowledge, background, and intuition that only her musically-inclined family could provide, Morente is not averse to combining popular and traditional sounds in the same program. “Every time Estrella takes a stage to sing, the place becomes a theatre or an arena, whether in a tablao, on film, or in any performance,” said director and producer Fernando Trueba. “She is archaic and futuristic at the same time.” Mujeres (2006), her third album, was nominated for a Latin Grammy award. Prior to this nomination, Morente was best known in the United States for contributions to Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver (2006), which featured actress Penelope Cruz. She was again shortlisted for a Latin Grammy award this past year for her 2012 album Autorretrato.