Duato’s ‘ideas’ for choreography are almost always preceded by his choice of music, which characterises his working method. Maybe this applies to Duende in particular, because the music was the only source of inspiration for this ballet.
World premiere: Nederlands Dans Theater at the AT&T Danstheater, Den Haag (Holland), November 21st 1991
Premiere by CND: Compañía Nacional de Danza at Teatro de La Zarzuela, Madrid (Spain), December 11th 1992
Long ago, Duato fell in love with Debussy, especially with the way the composer makes nature sound in music. When he listens to this music, Duato visualises shapes, not people, relationships or events. This is why he considers Duende as an almost sculptural work: a body, a movement, that goes with the tune.
Duende literally means elf or fairy, like the ones who tidy upchildren’s toys at night, but it can also mean rascal, a naughty child. One can also possess ‘duende’, when radiating energy and great charm, almost having a magical attraction. In Andalusia flamenco is saidto have duende, which can hardly be translated into another language. Flamenco has a touch of spell, one might say, like the way black music has ‘soul’.
At the beginning of the twentieth century Debussy was an unknown composer, and the public was suddenly listening to absolutely different sounds. Strange, beautiful and magical, as they must have been, these sounds have identified his complex cultural roots. Debussy’s music reveals classical and romantic origins, apart from connections with lay music, folk songs, Arab, eastern and slave cultures, and even with jazz.
Classicism may simply be explained as consecrated to form. In this sense, Romanticism is usually defined as the expression of emotions. However, the relationship between Debussy and these two concepts is not always so simple. Form and emotion are always present in his music, but more as the result of a process of insinuation than one of definition. In one of his rules for composers, Debussy wrote: “Discipline must be looked for in freedom”. This could be considered his first command.
Debussy is frequently identified with the impressionist artistic movement: but whereas painters like Monet gave great importance to light, Debussy was mainly interested in the quality and effect of sound. Comments of Debussy about Stravinsky were that “he was widening the borders of what is allowed in the empire of sound”, and this could undoubtedly be applied to his own work.