Posted on March 7, 2014
Carole Edrich blogs from Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival
Back in the early days of the Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival, each artist was responsible for his or her own flamenco floor. A few years ago, I learned that the floor belonging to Eva Yerbabuena had been used for the duration of the festival.
At one time the only portable flamenco floors were planks of wood or sprung wooden boards. Later, some were designed to conduct sound forwards to the audience. Now some have special internal microphone pick-ups and some even fluoresce. None of them are cheap, which is perhaps why Sadler’s Wells took a while to get its own.
Chatting with Yinka Esi Greaves offers insight into the emotional context. Cojiendo tablas (to tour as a flamenco, literally to take floors) is a vital step taken by every dancer in the climb to the dizzying heights of Baras-Barbie megastardom. Many have floors that sound awful, damage shoes and knees, and are so restrictive that hands are bruised on nearby walls.
Such experiences are part of finding your way as a performer, and they leave an indelible mark. Couple that with the massively hierarchical nature of flamenco itself, throw Spain’s currently desperate financial plight into the mix, add the perfectly natural pre-stage nerves and the operatic attitude of many flamencos and you’ll understand why it took me four days to get permission to take this photo.
Photograph: Carole Edrich