The expression “duende flamenco”, which means “goblin flamenco” in English , can´t be easily explained. As artists would say, you either have it or you don’t. Still, in this article, we will do our best to put it into words so that, next time you enjoy a flamenco show, you will instinctively know whether the performance has «duende» or not.
“Duende Flamenco”: The History
It lacks a unified definition, but it can be understood by bearing in mind what renowned artists and flamenco scholars have said about it. Federico García Lorca, the famous artist and poet, defined “duende” as “a power, not a work; a struggle, not a thought.” Meanwhile, Anselmo Gonzalez Climent, the flamenco scholar, describes “duende” as “a special state of flamenco grace.”
In short, the “duende” is the artist’s — be it a singer, dancer or musician — ability to fill the stage with their mere presence and to thrill the audience with their artistic expression. It’s not about style or absolute perfection in the discipline — it’s a gift, a state of grace that allows the artist to become the living expression of flamenco.
Renowned Artists That Have the Gift of the “Duende” Flamenco
If ever there was an artist who could be identified with the duende flamenco, it was the legendary singer Camarón de la Isla, who would claim, while talking about his art and the ‘duende’: ”it cannot be explained; I suddenly do things while singing that I have never done […] and I would not know how to recreate them”.
Another singer who had the “duende”, Pepe el Lebrijano, would claim that “Whenever I am singing and feel that I have the “duende”, there is no stopping me”. We can then specify that most flamenco artists will experience the “duende” at different points throughout their career. Even so, it is easier to perceive in those who are more famous: Enrique Morente, Carmen Linares, Paco de Lucía, La Niña de los Peines, among others. Going through any of their performances, one could find out what the “duende” is without being able to put it into words.
Find the “Duende Flamenco” in the Gran Gala Flamenco Shows
If you want to experience the “duende” in a live performance, do not miss the shows by the Gran Gala Flamenco company in the Teatro Poliorama or the Liceu; our outstanding artistic ensemble, made up of the best singers, dancers and flamenco musicians in a state of grace will take your breath away.