(photo credit: FLORENCIA O’RYAN ZUNIGA)
In flamenco performance, there is a very clear hierarchy of who is on stage. There are the ensemble dancers, the musicians, the singers and the soloists. Though the complete picture is one of community and harmony, there is also an underlying solitude of the top-level dancers, a division between the ranks of passionate performers.
For Adva Yermiyahu, who has been hooked on flamenco since her first glimpse of it, the road to pursuing her Spanish dreams has been a singular one. Born and raised in Israel, Yermiyahu, 32, has spent the past decade traveling between Israel and Spain.
As a child, she participated in jazz and ballet classes. Then, by chance, she happened upon Simma Yehuda’s recital.
“She is the woman who taught flamenco in Yavne,” explains Yermiyahu. “I was 12 at the time. I asked my mom if I could go to her class. It was so alive and happy. It is an art that was born from impulses and emotion, happiness, sadness, femininity, separation, death, life… Even when you don’t understand the rhythm or the lyrics, something very strong comes across. Once I got into flamenco, I got into an endless story because it’s a bottomless pit. It’s a very deep art form that is connected to tradition and to Spain. I understood that I would have to either live in Spain or be in Spain a lot of time. Most flamenco artists live like that because we have to be close to the source. It’s dependent on the culture, location, heritage, tradition… Here, we live that. It’s the advantage and disadvantage of it. It connects us to here and there. I think it’s an up that I have two homes,” she says.
Setting out on her journey to get to the source of flamenco meant that Yermiyahu parted ways with most of the people she grew up and trained with. She entrenched herself in the flamenco community in Andalusia. Along the way, she became aware of several others like herself, Israeli women who were drawn to Spain to pursue flamenco.
This month, she will return to Israel with these women to present OCHO (“eight” in Spanish), a collaboration among four dancer/choreographers and four Spanish musicians. Joining her on stage will be dancers Adi Movdat, Adi Akiva and Yael Tuchfeld, as well as musicians Jose Luis Medina, Pepe de Pura, Juanfran Carrasco and Antonio Monteil. The performance will take place as part of the Suzanne Dellal Center’s annual Flamenco Days Festival.
When we spoke on the phone, Yermiyahu and the OCHO team had just finished their first It takes eight to flamenco ‘OCHO’ will be performed at the dance festival in Tel Aviv (Courtesy of Flamenco Days) out & about highlights dining events movies television 13 rehearsal. Getting everyone together proved the biggest challenge in this journey, Yermiyahu explained, as all eight performers have busy, conflicting schedules.
“We just finished, this minute, our first full rehearsal. For the past six months, we have dropped many projects in order to work together, and these past two months especially. The show is a meeting, a personal and professional meeting. The number eight is also the sign for infinity, which is a perfect symbol for our endeavor. Infinity is our path in life and in art, flamenco and art, our friendship is endless. We all started to dance in Israeli studios. Some of us danced in Israel. Three are winners of the Adi Foundation Prize. It’s the producing body behind this festival. We all come from the new generation of Israeli flamenco dancers. The show was made together. We are four independent artists, but it is a collaborative process for the four of us. All of the rehearsals are taking place in Seville, Andalusia,” she says.
For Yermiyahu, the message behind this project is equally important to the production itself.
“It feels that we are doing something very big, and very professional, at a very high level, as independent dancers and as a group, that the collaboration with the Spanish artists is insane, and I feel that it’s a message beyond good art and high level beyond collaboration, to dancers/ choreographers and to Israelis. I hope that it will inspire more artists to collaborate and that it will show them that it only strengthens and allows more. It’s social, collegial, it’s together. That’s life. Instead of everyone alone. Each one of us has her solo in the show, but there are the moments that are together. We created a group that elevates the whole. We are there for each other, pushing each other to give more, to do more,” she says.
OCHO will be performed on March 16 at 2 p.m. at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.