Igor Yebra, the “curious boy” who invented stories, goes to the opera

With the same curiosity of a child who played to invent stories, the former Spanish dancer Igor Yebra faces the stage direction of the opera “Dido & Eneas” in Uruguay, a country whose National Ballet he directed for three years and which he considers his “second home”.

Despite the technical differences between dance, its natural habitat, and opera, the also Basque choreographer and teacher (Bilbao, 1974) confesses that he accepts “challenges” like this or the one that will soon lead him to act in theater with Eusebio Poncela in a constant mixture of desire to learn and “madness”.

He receives Agencia Efe at the Solís Theater in Montevideo, where this Thursday, May 19, his version of the opera composed by the British Henry Purcell, one of the best baroque authors, will be premiered, with the musical direction of Cristina García Banegas, a specialist in that artistic period.

Never a “no”

Even with Uruguayan twists incorporated into his way of speaking, despite the fact that he left at the end of 2020, after three seasons at the head of the National Ballet of Sodre (BNS), Yebra smiles excitedly explaining this project that emerged -as usual- in an informal chat between colleagues in the midst of a pandemic.

“There is one thing that characterizes me and that is that I like to be challenged. And I like to challenge myself and be passionate about things. I saw it as a challenge; I don’t like to say ‘no’ if it can be done,” he says, while recalling that opera is no stranger to him, since at the age of 20 he designed several choreographies on this genre in Bilbao.

The one who was, in 2004, the first non-Russian dancer to star in “Ivan the Terrible” in Moscow, usually flees, “although not on purpose”, from his comfort zone and confesses that “the curiosity” he feels about many things leads him to “not to waste” a time that “is very limited”.

“I can leave here tomorrow, but I’m going to close my eyes and say: ‘At least I’ve tried,'” he summarizes as a philosophy of life.

For this work, he has Uruguayan collaborators, such as the set designer Hugo Millán or the lighting designer Sebastián Marrero, with whom he has already shared “El Quijote del Plata” or “La tregua” at the BNS, and has incorporated the designer Ángel Amor, from Bilbao, as he-, known for, among other film productions, the costumes for “Maleficent” and “Cinderella”.

“I don’t think (I) will make any contribution,” he replies when asked if his version will add something to the opera based on Canto IV of Virgil’s “The Aeneid” and Nahum Tate’s tragedy “The Enchanted Lovers”. , also author of the libretto.

“I make the contribution to myself by continuing to have fun and I hope that it brings people a moment of pleasure and beauty, which is what I’m looking for. There are people who like provocation, who look for other kinds of things. To me I also like to provoke and make people think, but it’s through those places,” he adds.

The clicks of famobil

At almost 48 years old, the former dancer in large international companies and on the best stages around the world acknowledges having “the luck and fortune to continue being the child who played with the Famobil clickers (very famous toys in Spain in the ’70s and ’80s) and made up stories.

“It’s what he did as a child. Therefore, that child has gone on a larger scale,” he comments on his immersion in adaptations of the novel to ballet, as happened with “La Tregua”, or with this opera.

That curious spirit, which made him play a role in the play “Esto no es ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba'”, will lead him in a few months to star alongside Eusebio Poncela, one of the most renowned Spanish actors, “El Kiss of the Spider Woman”, by the Argentine Manuel Puig, under the direction of Carlota Ferrer.

“I get into a lot of trouble,” he exclaims between laughs before adding that he feels “a very great responsibility” before what will be his debut on the stage with a leading role at the Teatro Bellas Artes in Madrid, in September, before starting a tour all over Spain.

And, after commenting that “it is a very powerful team”, this “curious child” who is approaching half a century confesses that he does not know how he will get out of the situation but he is certain that he will learn and, above all, “grow” , something that for him “is a pleasure”.