Sunday, July 6, 2008

In search of Duende

"In New York freedom looks like to many choices..." -U2

Well, I'd always rather too many choices, than none at all.

Duende is a term in Spanish that means a slightly elusive thing. It suggests, rather than defines. Duende is the possession of a kind of Magical Passion...and the ability to transmit that quality to others. It is a term often used en el mundo de Flamenco. But is easily applied(and used) in other contexts.

For many years, Flamenco has been at the kind or outskirts of My Life. Present and calling. But never pushy. Never demanded.

Several years ago, while living abroad, I finally decided to study La Danza (I have studied many dance forms since I was a child), and took classes with a woman from Spain. Who, though in the possession of a great many technical skill,was a pretty crappy teacher of Flamenco-no history, no rhythm, no vocabulary- and absolutely(in my humble opinion) sin Duende. Still. I showed up for class. Jumped from beginner to intermediate in the course of a day or so, and performed in the student presentation at the end of the semester. Always though, aware, that I was not being taught properly. That I needed to learn la lengua de la Danza Flamenco in general. And certainly from someone who knew that that was important, taught it, and themselves possessed un Duende Grande.

So here I am now, in the present time. And for the past few weeks(really, couple of months) I have been actively searching for some kind of exercise to participate in outside of my long park walks. Of course, I have wanted to study more dance. But what form?? Nothing was calling to me. I had decided early on, that though I now had access to many masters(I have always been of the opinion that if you are going to bother at all to learn from someone- you should always learn from The Best), Flamenco was out. Taconeo(the footwork) being much too much for my knees. And besides, I wanted flamenco upper body movements, but something more languid, fluid from the waist down. My sister suggested a new fusion on the scene that combines flamenco with 'bellydance'. So I scoured youtube(how great is the internet!!), watching clips of local teachers, and in every one that I saw, the Power and Structure of the Flamenco upper body was gone. No transmission.

So the more and more I watched, the more and more I thought 'knees be damned!'(not really..I will drink turmeric 3x a day, need be). And the more and more Flamenco seems to be calling me back. 'Middle eastern' dance as well(have you ever noticed how eurocentric geography is?? Surely the middle east is only middle east if you are what eurocentric cultures define as 'west').

So, for the past day, when at home, I have been looking up both styles of teachers in NYC(there are loads). Then finding videos of them to watch and look for Duende(again- how great is the internet?!). The search continues. But I have found a couple that I am going to at least go check out.

In the meantime, if your not at all familiar, and wondering what the heck I'm talking about with all this 'duende' stuff. I leave you with 2 videos, that I dare you to not be moved by. ;-)

Alegrias- make sure to watch the whole video. As beautifull as las senorinas are, it's la Vieja starting at about 2:32 that works the mojo, and has Duende literally-to me- dripping from her dancing soul:

And then, the incomparable Eva Yerbabuena, in my personal favorite(thus far)of her's. Que Bellisima! Ole!:

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Hey! I decided to keep my blog and play with it a little...thestumblydiva fits too well to let go! I look forward to watching the dance videos when I'm at home :-)