Nacho Duato

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 by: the Nederlands Dans Theater at the AT&T Danstheater, Den Haag (Holland), November 21st 1991
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Teatro de La Zarzuela, Madrid (Spain), December 11st 1992
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza 2: at Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao (Spain), April 12nd 2002

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.


  • Choreography:
    Nacho Duato
  • Music:
    Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Pastorale and Finale of Sonate for Flute, Viola and Harp (1916); Syrinx (1912/1913), Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane (1904)
  • Set Design:
    Walter Nobbe
  • Costume Design:
    Susan Unger
  • Lighting Design:
    Nicolás Fischtel (A.A.I.)
  • Set made by:
    Carmina Burana
  • Costumes made by:
    CND wardrobe
  • Running time:
    23' 40''
  • Premiere cast CND:
    Jenniffer Grissette, África Guzmán, Patrick de Bana, Catherine Habasque, Mar Baudesson, Ricardo Franco (Pastorale 1st mov. Sonata for flute, viola and harp); Eva López Crevillén, José Antonio Quiroga, María Luisa Ramos, Lars Neubacher (Syrinx Solo for flute ); Luis Martín Oya, José Manuel Armas, Tony Fabre, César Augusto Moniz, Eduardo Castro, Raúl Tino (Finale 3rd mov. Sonata for flute, viola and harp); Yoko Taira, Patrick de Bana, María Luisa Delgado, Ricardo Franco, Sandra Seijo, José Antonio Quiroga, Marcelle Lehner, Lars Neubacher, Cati Arteaga, Ángel Rodríguez, Catherine Allard, José Antonio Beguiristain (Danse Sacrée)
  • Premiere cast CND2:
    Inés Pereira, Lucía Barbadillo, Johannes Dohl (Pastorale, 1st mov. Sonata for flute, viola and harp); Erika Bouvard, Jonatan de Luis Mazagatos (Syrinx, Solo for flute); Héctor Torres, Francisco Bosch, Gabriel Blanco (Finale, 3rd mov Sonata for flute, viola and harp); Débora Maiques, Jonatan de Luis Mazagatos, Raquel Rey, Raúl Díaz-Maroto, Andrea Méndez, Johannes Dohl (Danse Sacrée for harp and strings)