Many people believe the flamenco is the invention of the Gypsies, however it's history is far more layered. The gypsies arrived in Andalucia in 1425 from India, but soon found themselves persecuted by the Catholic monarchs, along with the Moors and the Jews.
The Moors and Jews were forced to convert to Christianity by threat of expulsion from Spain, the gypsies worse yet, were subject to violent atrocities in trying to eradicate them as a race. They were forbidden to acknowledge and practice anything to do with their identity - music, trade, horse dealing and of course sorcery.
These laws and restrictions resulted in bands of Gypsies, Moors and Jews to take refuge in the treacherous mountainous areas which were too desolate for authorities to pursue them.
It is here in the secrecy of the mountains where flamenco was born, where these maligned people expressed their fury, sorrow and power.
Given the brutal context in this underclass that forged the formation of flamenco, many of its core themes explore the shadow aspects of the human psyche - rage, despair, guilt.... As social fugitives began to blend into the mountain camps together, thus the songs of expressing the deepest pain of a collective people began to emerge. Though within this injustice, defiance is also found. The duende of the flamenco and its invocations to the spirits, is a deep and cathartic experience for the dancer and also the hidden and intimate circle of audience of friends/family it was performed within. In short, every aspect of the flamenco is imbued with secrets and tones, deep spiritual invocations and expressions.
Primitive fury balanced with control and refrain of the dancer and musicians
Embodiment of passion and conflict
Duende is considered the height of transcendental moments in the dance (a looming red-skeleton, who without ceremony (scythe and hourglass in hand(s)) targets beleaguered, tormented, suffering, struggling or harassed artists prompting them (in their desperate anguish and high-anxiety) to heights of astonishing creative brilliance.)
Flamenco is the precipice of darkness and light, the region of both terror and comfort.
To explore the flamenco dancer's relationship with the 'duende' or this precipice
How it is both a cathartic but also consuming - needing it to survive, but it changing you
What this ritual really drills into in terms of what it means emotionally for the dancer losing themselves in it
How it is a parallel with exploring the shadow self