Ornate D, Brooklyn Museum, James TissotI never would have guessed that D-day would lead me to Duende. In fact, I don’t think the word has ever been on my radar.

Earlier I was thinking along the lines of Death, Dreaming, or maybe Discombobulated for today’s theme. But, thanks to the random way my mind has of following twisted threads, I found myself listening to “Duende” by Delerium. The song itself isn’t a particular favorite but I realized I had no clue what the title means. Thanks to the internet and the incredible ease of following even the most idle pang of curiosity, I discovered that duende is a pretty damn cool word. 

According to my dictionary, the definition of duende is “The ability to attract others through personal magnetism and charm.” Not very interesting, but the top of my “duende definition” search on Google had the word defined as:

  1. A quality of passion and inspiration.
  2. A spirit.

Now we’re getting somewhere. But wait, there’s more! Wikipedia has an entry for “Duende (art)” that I urge you to read if you’re interested at all. Here are some excerpts:

Duende is a difficult-to-define word used in the Spanish arts, including performing arts….’Tener duende’ (‘having duende’) can be loosely translated as having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity.

Later, the entry states:

El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to music. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.

Reading that makes me think of experiences I’ve had when listening to certain music, or seeing performances that were especially powerful. Often these experiences have been during live performances and are therefore difficult to share with you. But I’m including some videos of performances that, in spite of my admittedly superficial understanding of the concept, I feel have the hint of duende.

Being D-day, I decided to share some clips of dance — specifically, contemporary or modern dance. If you have no experience watching modern dance, these may seem strange or incomprehensible. To me, watching dance is a bit like reading poetry, but written in the shape and flow of the dancers’ movements. These two clips seem fairly accessible to me. The choreography and the performers do an excellent job working with the music. For what it’s worth, I urge you to watch through at the least the first minute of each (especially the second one) before you decide you hate it. Or not. It may just not be your thing.

I would think duende might well be in the experience of the beholder. Do you have an example of your own? Have you had a response to an artistic performance that gave you chills, made you smile or cry in a particularly powerful way?


In case you’re interested, here is the Delerium song that got me going.

D is for Duende
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6 thoughts on “D is for Duende

  • 04-04-2012 at 11:50 am

    Well, obviously I telepathed this to you as I was dancing my morning flamenco. 🙂

    Seriously — I didn’t know this word, but now I do, and I thank you for that!

    • 04-04-2012 at 12:23 pm

      Aha! I *thought* I was picking something up. How did you do that? Is it a power you have? Or are we just somehow on a shared telepathic wavelength?

      I think you have powerful daydreams. I suspect there’s been an outbreak of flamenco dancing (real and virtual) in the DC area. Good job!

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who did not know about this word, but if I had known I was going to actually learn things doing this challenge, I never would have agreed to do it. 🙂

  • 04-04-2012 at 7:45 pm

    Wow. Now I have learned something new. I’m one of those people that cries at anything, but particularly music or theatre and writing. I had no idea there was a word for that particular phenomenon. Now I know. Thank you!

    Looking forward to more A to Z goodness!

    • 04-04-2012 at 8:20 pm

      You’re the second person to tell me you also learned something new with this post. I’m glad about that, and also that I’m not the only one who didn’t know!

      Thank you for visiting!

  • 04-04-2012 at 10:54 pm

    I love learning new words and duende is a great one.

    AtoZChallenge Dragondreamer’s Lair

    • 04-04-2012 at 10:56 pm

      Yeah, I’m glad this challenge prompted me to explore the word. Thanks for stopping by!


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