Reflections on Duende…

Ah, duende, that word again. I have been reading and reflecting on the ideas of duende, and we have been discussing it in class before we dance. In reading about duende, I have come across several concepts of the word, relating to the Spanish arts, mainly flamenco. The original meaning seems to be a fairy or goblin-like creature in Spanish mythology. Duende also has to do with emotion, expression, and authenticity. That, I can relate to. Having soul…

You generally see much angst and an intense emotional expression watching most flamenco, and when you see tribal bellydance, there is much joy and abandon of a different type to be seen in the dancer, or at least that is what I like to see, and how I like to dance.

When I watched Miriam and her dancers in Italy at the Etnosfera Festival, (see previous posts), they danced with a recklessness of spirit and beauty, not so much darkness,  that I love to feel when I dance, although the structure of tribal calls to something different still. Every form, of course, is distinct, and evokes similar and different sides of the dance and the dancer.

The writer/poet, Garcia Lorca’s version of duende is about irrationality, earthiness, an awareness of death, and a bit of the diabolical. He says “…it is a power, a struggle… that it climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet. It is not a question of ability, but of spontaneous creation.”

One of my dancers, Veronica, is also a flamenco dancer. After our discussions in dance class about duende, she brought me a book to read, which I have started and am quickly falling into—Duende,  a Journey into the Heart of Flamenco, by Jason Webster.

Pursuing the meaning of duende, Lorca states that all arts are capable of duende, but it is mostly in music and dance, because these arts need a live body to define them.

I love that Nick Cave, one of my heroes and all time favorite musicians, gave a lecture about love songs, and referred to duende. He said that all love songs must contain duende, because the love song is never truly happy.

Duende is defined in the New Oxford English Dictionary as a ghost, an evil spirit, inspiration, magic, fire. Add to that from Random House: a goblin, demon, spirit, charm, magnetism.

…to have a certain magic.

Now don’t you want to see that in a dance and a dancer? That connection between them, and the music—to be truly inspired. A dancer who connects with her dance, and knows her style well enough to project and share it with another. And when you see it, you know. Ah…

Who are your heroes?







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