Fellow Travellers: Eva Yerbabuena & Paco Jarana

Flamenco International  London, 2002/7, 3,000 words; adapted extracts  

Conversation between flamencos can be more revealing than anything written about flamenco. When I came upon Ray Gun magazine's dialogues between indie musicians, they offered a good model for experiment. Eva and Paco were the natural starting point for the series.

Also see: A Cuatro Voces / Flamenco Women / Hotel / Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey


Vicky: Can you remember what you felt the first time you saw Eva dance?

Eva/It wasn't dance that impressed me as much as cante (song). I've always felt song is the mother of all flamenco.

Paco: How could I forget?

Eva: He didnt feel anything! There wasnt  time! [she laughs]

Paco: She was like a locomotive. She began, all feet, then wound up the speed - dow, dow, dow, dow, getting faster and faster - and I whispered to the other guitarist, "What's she doing? She's like a kid goat walking on rocks" and he said, "Leave her be, Paco." She wanted to do it all with her feet. And I remember when she finally had Enrique el Extremeo singing for her, just three metres away - she admired him a lot, you know, and Enrique Soto too, from the beginning - she just stood stock still. [pauses] She didn't move an inch. [all three laugh] Enrique whispered to me, "What's going on? Why doesn't she dance?" So I said really loudly,  "Okay, let's go then." And she said, "Impossible. I cannot move a foot, if I do, I'll mess it up."


V: Eva, you're often quoted as saying just one flamenco performance you saw with your father made you decide to dance. I think Manuela Carrasco and Concha Vargas were dancing?

Eva: Yes, but it wasn't the dance that impressed me as much as the cante (song). I've always felt song is the mother of all flamenco. Take Paco de Luca's work. You listen to his music and say, "Madre ma!", how blessed he is by the gift of knowing how to listen. I don't think I'd be a dancer if I could sing.

V: Is dancing another kind of listening? It's just occurred to me because you once defined your technique as "a process of knowing yourself and your body". Is that listening to your body?

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