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July 19, 2010 / HJD

Defining Duende

It’s like having panache, style, grace and intensity combined. It’s the ability to move an audience. The moment when a flamenco dancer’s punctuating rhythm, or a singer’s lilting, haunting cadence sends shivers down the spine — that’s how I describe duende.

Although purists of the form will say it eludes words or definitions, I like these interpretations of duende:

Duende is a power and not a behavior, it is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old master guitarist say, ‘Duende is not in the throat; duende surges up from the soles of the feet’. Which means it is not a matter of ability, but of real live form; of blood; of ancient culture; of creative action.”

– Federico Garcia Lorca

As guitar-strumming Australian named Sal on his Soapbox blog wrote:

It will reach inside the heart and sprinkle magic seeds of emotional excitement, which transfixes the attention and captures the imagination. This may result in a heady rush of hedonistic fulfillment that will cause you to spontaneously shout “Ole!”

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