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although unwell, we had tickets to see the eva yerbabuena ballet flamenco at the opera house so i psyched myself up and got dressed and we went (if i do have glandular fever, it isn’t that contagious, so i wasn’t being completely irresponsible by going out in public).

i am so glad i went.

it was the most incredible thing i’ve seen in a long time. we were sitting in the third row, so although it wasn’t perfect in terms of being able to see the dancers’ feet, you were so close you could see every movement and every facial expression. in the flesh yerbabuena looks like my friend camilla might look in about fifteen years, absolutely gorgeous, totally powerful and commanding. she does as much with a raised eyebrow as she does with her amazing feet.

the six dancers and the band who accompanied her were also fantastic, and the audience cheered and clapped for about fifteen minutes at the end until they gave us a beautiful encore. all the costumes were gorgeous, and the thing that i noticed was that they were mostly very demure. yerbabuena’s dresses in particular were mostly covering her from neck to ankle and yet she was so unbelievably alluring.

flamenco is a stunning form of dance. it is as much about silence and stillness as it is about passionate whirling and stamping. the women are not skinny, flat-chested girls, but full-blooded, full-bodied women. i read somewhere once that the flamenco purists resent women learning the dance who aren’t spanish because it is a heart dance, something that is in the blood. and seeing these dancers tonight you can believe it; they pour their whole beings into the dance, their faces are totally full of emotion, and they are so strong.

if you can ever track down a 1997 documentary by mike figgis called flamenco women, check it out. it features yerbabuena, but also these amazing older women who prove you don’t need to be young, quick or thin to be completely arresting. i remember seeing it when i was at uni and being absolutely captivated.

here’s a link to a SMH slideshow featuring some of the music from the show (written by her husband, paco jarana) and photos of the other dancers too.