Duende is the spanish word used to describe the mythological creatures that live in the forest (elves, pixies) ; the indescribable personal charm some people possess ; as well as when ‘magic’ happens in a flamenco performance.
In 1991, Susan was approached by Nacho Duato to design the original costumes for his upcoming choreography, Duende, to be performed for the first time by the Netherlands Dance Theater.
The piece was set to music by Claude Debussy , specifically the Pastorale and Finale of the Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp (1916). Duato was fascinated by Debussy’s seeming ability to transform nature’s sounds into music, and it inspired him to create the sculptural and sometimes quirky choreography in the piece.
Susan’s costumes were a natural extension of her ‘Bringing Nature Inside’ philosophy. Her hand painted silk charmeuse subtly highlighted the dancer’s ‘elfish’ movements and the contrasted illumination of the stage. Both the women’s and men’s costumes have a corset-like ribbon that criss-crosses on the side of the costume, giving them an air of early XX Century fashion. The women’s dresses have a V-neckline and a small skirt of pointed fabric that flows when they move around. The tights and dresses are printed with leaves, and mottled with green and brown, adding to the vision that they are creatures from the forest.
We saw this dance piece as an extention of the BiniChic philosophy, as it captures the sensitivity and romanticism of nature, while still being sophisticated and timeless.
Now, nearly twenty years after the first perfomance — and after being perfomed around the world by some of the most renowned dance companies — Susan has been asked to make yet a new set of costumes. This time with the help of Ona, the pair will create the new costumes for the piece’s perfomance by St. Petersbug’s Mikhailovsky Theatre dance troupe, led by Nacho Duato starting January 2011. Hopefully we can go to the début in St.Petersburg in March, and help support our friend and colleague in his new adventure!
Members of Compañía Nacional de Danza performing Nacho Duato’s Duende. (Photos by Michael Slobodian)