Flamenco of Fire

Source:  Wikipedia + an editorial infusion from Royce

El Duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response… It gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.   In her book, A YEAR IN THE WORLD, Frances Mayes describes Duende as the summoning of a life-force spirit and the expression of that spirit. As an example of Duende, she writes,  "Flamenco lights a brushfire in the blood.  And, “The Spanish moon has duende.”   

Duende embodies an authenticity that comes from a people whose culture is enriched by the human condition of joys and sorrows. Drawing on popular usage and Spanish folklore, Federico García Lorca first developed the aesthetics of Duende in a lecture he gave in Buenos Aires in 1933, "Juego y teoria del duende" ("Play and Theory of the Duende")

According to Christopher Maurer, editor of "In Search of Duende", at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca's vision of Duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. The Duende is a demonic earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding him that "ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head"; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps him create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art. The Duende is seen, in Lorca's lecture, as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity, to God-given grace and charm (what Spaniards call "angel"), and to the classical, artistic norms dictated by the muse.

Not that the artist simply surrenders to the Duende; he or she has to battle it skillfully, "on the rim of the well", in "hand-to-hand combat". To a higher degree than the muse or the angel, El Duende seizes not only the performer but also the audience, creating conditions where art can be understood spontaneously with little, if any, conscious effort. It is, in Lorca's words, "a sort of corkscrew that can get art into the sensibility of an audience... the very dearest thing that life can offer the intellectual."

The critic Brook Zern has written, of a performance of someone with Duende, "it dilates the mind's eye, so that the intensity becomes almost unendurable... There is a quality of first-timeness, of reality so heightened and exaggerated that it becomes unreal...".

Lorca writes: "El Duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.' Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation…The Duende's arrival always means a radical change in forms. It brings to old planes unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and it produces an almost religious enthusiasm." [...] All arts are capable of Duende…”

The MUSEologies Studio can testify to the power of El Duende and offers this mini-exercise:
Whatever the endeavor 
Or task 
Or creation before you
Summon the life-force spirit of El Duende
Express the Flamenco brush-fire in your blood
Without hesitation
Without edits or critical review
Without worrying about what other people may think
And, most importantly, don’t take it too seriously,
Infuse Joy and Fun 
Feel the passionate fire moving through your body
Take the risk
Dance with Duende

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