What is Duende?
Updated: Jun 10, 2018
Define Your Duende was originally inspired by my observation of Carmen Amaya, a flamenco dancer, who within a tradition, created a legacy. She was known as the queen of the gypsies and had a completely spontaneous, electrifying, and immensely unique expression and contribution. Watching her made me feel alive, that pulse of energy that one experiences when they see someone in a state of flow.
What made her different? Well, it is written that she had Duende. Duende is a hard word to translate but it often rendered as spirit, fire, or soul. In the process of becoming a Spanish speaker, I realized that there are some words that just don’t translate, there are words that are an original offering from that oral tradition. Duende is one of those words. When I read it and saw Amaya dance flamenco I understood it.
The word Duende has a history in itself; it’s earliest known origins mean a spirit or Elvin in Spanish and Latin American fables. But in 1933 the renowned writer Frederico Garcia Lorca gave a lecture in Buenos Aires, where he made a powerful reformulation of the word. He used it to bring legitimacy and to maintain the contributions of gypsy culture in Spain, and in particular to Flamenco. He re-defined the word to exemplify the spirit of someone when they lose reflective self-consciousness and are autotelic. To be a great flamenco dancer requires this style of methodology: learning and practicing, but then completely being with and making one’s own execution.
It occurred to me I see Duende everywhere, from my favorite athletes, artists, and even salesmen and therapists. Everyone has access to Duende, in any form. It’s when one can fully enter into the present moment and fulfill their unrivaled contributions. Duende is more than just being, it’s enrichening.
Duende came to my psychotherapy practice because my clients repeatedly at one point or another came to this conclusion, life is more than just functioning. I have worked with many people therapeutically, in agencies and in private practice to get them to a place of functioning. I have also received clients who have primarily worked with others to become more functional in their lives, but once they attained that goal they would realize being functional wasn’t enough. Numerous clients have told me in more ways than one that they no longer want to die, but they are not ok just going through the motions, just living.
These clients want to live more fully. They want more meaning, purpose, and fully present experiences. They want a reason to do the functioning. Duende is my understanding of that practice, to develop effective lives as the foundation to realize one's authentic expression and inspired experience. Duende is the evolving reason and inspiring connection to one’s life.
The root of my work is to unmask the Duende, the fire or brilliance, inherent in every person. Join me in individual, couples, or group psychotherapy and coaching to Define Your Duende. Explore my website to learn more about my services and call or email to book your free consultation.