Frederico Garcia Lorca explains in Play and Theory of the Duende, that Duende is the meeting of soul and spirit in a moment of artistic genius. Duende is struggle, the struggle of an artist to channel spirit in creative action from the soles of the feet on up. Duende exposes the divine, within and without. The struggle of Duende is sometimes only realized by an artist for seconds in a lifetime. It is creative work brought out by willingness and discipline which invoke evolution within actor, dancer, singer, performer. Aretha Franklin brings soul out from a place few of us can tap. Still, one night, she comes to a performance that rises to a higher realm and channels her soul connection more than ever before — pure Duende. Some artists do this in their last breath. Jan Yoors recounts such a tale of Duende in his book, The Gypsies, written about his lifetime of travels with the Rom of Europe. A mystical protector of the group, Lyuba, was know to be the best source for wise counsel. In great age, under an crescent moon, she walked into the center of a gathering and sang stories of their experiences. Yoors recalls, “her voice had a penetrating, unfathomable quality that stirred me in a way I cannot forget.” The title sequence in the Mike Figgis film, One Night Stand, captures a heightened beauty, vulnerability, electrical artistry, and the angelic side of Robert Downey Jr. This intro to the film offers glimpses of heaven with Downey Jr.’s movements, dance, and blue light that nourish the longing of our spirit and creates more longing.
Figgis creates a space for Duende with electrical blue lights casting luminescence lapsing into shadows. With film he joins the astral and surreal with authentic spirit. Downey Jr sublimely, lyrically, wraps himself around the shadows and captures light with the interplay of movement in the space.
Duende offers the audience inspiration, which brings up one’s own ability to find a sense of Duende operating in life.
As with Lorca’s poems, one finds such offerings in all works of art: photos, paintings, decor, and person style which vibrates at peak expression. Duende is something that stirs you, stays with you, and keeps creation and inspiration alive.
Although Duende is most often associated with musical expression, voice, there is rhythm, lyric in film, photo, painting, and sculpture. Shannon Diana and Matthew Lynn spontaneously found a Chaplinesk dimension romantically within their relationship captured on film by Hung Tran. Duende is compatibly expressed and mutually owned, soul to soul, spirit to spirit, happiness.
Young Mirabai captures a style that Audrey Hepburn made remarkable. She shape shifts, shakes off the day, explodes rhythmically as a new yellow star and brings Duende to friends in the night.
Style that stirs and speaks to the beyond, such as these lanterns, over Florida’s Sarasota Bay express the meeting of fire and water, a synthesis of elemental connection and interrelationship, naturalistically. Created by artist John Dickson, the lamps reflect the calm tropical landscape while capturing the unwieldy elements of fire, water, and the wind in a gentle harness. From the shoreline the lanterns lead us within and without to the water’s expansion and lift us with fire into the light of evening.
Photo Credits: Hung Tran, Mary McCulley, Mira Bai Shahan