There are neither maps nor exercises to help us find the duende – Federico Garcia Lorca
Duende is something of a mystery to me. It is supposedly a powerful feeling that is very much entwined with flamenco. Some say that it is something more than just the magic of flamenco. So, just what is it really?
Standing around a street corner in Seville with a flamenco show ticket in hand, I thought to myself maybe this would be the place to teach me about the duende.
I was also hoping that maybe it is something I will sense along the twisted lanes of Triana or even in the gardens of the Alcázar. La Giralda seemed like a brilliant place to find it too. Or maybe even the magnificent Seville Cathedral.
But as my time in Seville wore on, it became obvious to me that the duende is not something I can seek in corners of the city. Or hope that it finds me through the beauty of the architecture. The duende was something you had to live and breathe everyday.
I came to this realization as I sat watching the magnificent flamenco performance at La Casa del Flamenco, a 15th-century house located in Barrio Santa Cruz. The setting was intimate and it seemed like I was privileged to watch this amazing art brought to life before my eyes.
The power, the passion, the sadness, the beauty and the sheer intensity of it all left me breathless. For an entire hour, I was transported to another place and time. It was magical!
Dare I believe that this was the duende? I don’t think I will ever know if what I felt that day was the duende. And I don’t know if I will ever find it. But, I am very sure that I will never stop trying.