“The angel dazzles, but flies over a man’s head, high above, shedding its grace, and the man realises his work, or his charm, or his dance effortlessly.”
- Lorca -
In 2009, I traveled with Song of the Goat Theatre in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University as a part of my MA in Acting practical research to the Andalusia region of Spain, to study Flamenco and Roma Flamenco culture. In Seville we studied Flamenco dance (baile), clapping (palmas), rhythms (palos) and singing (cante) with masters at Museo del Baile Flamenco. We also met with and studied with the famous Gitano flamenco Amaya family, including singer La Caita, in Badajoz, Spain. This family was depicted in Tony Galif’s film Latcho Drom, depicting world Roma culture. https://youtu.be/818mK_W8naQ
Flamenco is centuries old and has been influenced by and associated with the Romani People of Spain, however, its origin and style are uniquely Andalusian.
Although unclear, the hypotheses of the origins of Flamenco attribute to the creation of the style to the Spanish Romani and the interchange between native Andalusian, Romani, Castilian, Moors and Sephardi Jews. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamenco
The poet Frederico Garcia Lorca says in his essay Theory and Play of the Duende, “...the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.”
For me, this research in Spain could be called “In search of Duende” for it was there on the stones of Badajoz that I began to understand, or rather put a name to the concept of Duende. Something that rises up within me, or passes through, an ancient force allowing me to catch an energy that is far more powerful than myself. It is fleeting. It is powerful. It is full of mystery. It is sometimes dark. It is sometimes light. It is universal but most often avoided. It hides. It can be channeled but not commanded. It takes and gives equally.