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Tablao Magazine

Trina Bardusco….In Search of Duende

Written by Emanuel Urzúa | 16 June 2010

“The photography sessions are the catalyst, the driving force, the raison d’étre to enter into the exclusive world where flamenco lives for it’s own sake, outside of the usual performance scenarios”

In Search of Duende bars witness to the magic that legendary New York based photographer, Gilles Larrain, has captured when documenting the lives and work of the best flamenco artists of the world.

This documentary series follows Gilles as he captures outstanding moments of singing, dancing and guitar playing. His photo sessions awaken the flamenco spirit, or duende, of an art form whose roots, like the olive tree behind dancer Mario Maya, run deep in the South of Spain. “In Search of Duende follows Gilles to different cities and towns in Andalusia, the birthplace of flamenco as he discovers a new generation of artists. To follow Gilles is to discover the duende that thrives behind the scenes. In the intimate settings of their studios and homes, surrounded by family and friends with the unique spaces of Andalusia as a backdrop, the flamenco artists reveal to Gilles a world that few have an opportunity to witness.” says Trina.

Trina Bardusco (writer, director and producer) is an American-Venezuelan and a New Yorker and is the executive producer of the on-going series “Habla” for HBO Latino U.S.A. She is also the director of “Making Habla” (Miami) and of “Habla Más en Chicago,” two parallel documentaries about Latinos living in the U.S. TABLAO MAGAZINE had the opportunity to meet with Trina, who describes her new project “In Search of Duende” as the ‘Making of’ Larrain’s photography sessions. “He has the best photographs of flamenco artists, in my opinion, that have not been shot in the studio but rather in the andalusian scenery. The goal is to document spontaneous and unrehearsed moments of dancing and music as well as to conduct interviews and discover”, reveals Bardusco about the documentary that will start shooting this year.

After graduating from Hunter College in New York in Spanish Literature, she won a Fulbright Scholarship (1999-2000) to travel to Spain and research her project: “Flamenco’s Duende and Deep Song”. Inspired by Larrain’s photos en las fotos de Larraín y en las cosas que veía en su casa, lugar que ella asegura se armaban muy buenas juergas de flamenco. “When I arrived to Seville I had brought some of Larrain’s photographs that inspired me and I went straight to Paco Lira, owner of La Carboneria. I showed them to him- he had never seen these photos-, and then the doors begin to open for me,” says Bardusco.

Trina stays her first week at La Carboneria, where famous figures like Frank Zappa, and Soledad Bravo have been guests in the past. “During the time I studied flamenco dance and even danced in La Carboneria, thus I had studied ballet, flamenco is very difficult art to learn”, coments Bardusco to TABLAO MAGAZINE.

During this time, Trina meets cantaor Luis Agujeta, with whom she would ultimately direct and produce her first documentary: ‘El turista soy yo: Luis Agujeta y su cante gitano (I am the turist: Luis Agujeta and his gypsy singing’. “He would sing regularly at La Carboneria ,and I would go see him perform almost every day. Finally seven months later I decided to do a documentary about him”, she says, “Luis lived between his minivan and his country-home outside of Seville…… I mean a real gypsy life”. In 2007, seven years later, the documentary DVD is finally released and distributed in Barcelona (Spain) under label Discmendi, along with a CD.

“This is a story that tells itself through photographs and interviews with the flamenco artists and those close to them. It acts as a window onto their lives, so full of spontaneous moments of singing, dancing, and guitar playing. The series also explores the cities and scenery of Andalusia—the home of so many flamenco artists and the place where, without doubt, duende is to be found among sun and shadow”, coments Bardusco.

Gilles creates a space so artists can just ‘be’ and ‘transcend,’ and this magic is palpable in all of his photos, both taken within and outside of his studio. “It’s impossible to talk about Gilles without describing the world that he has created in which his subjects feel comfortable enough to express themselves for the camera.”, says Bardusco.

For more information about the documentary “In Search of Duende” visit: