There is a particular Iberian quality, duende, a combination of ‘soul’ and ‘fatalism’, which has no exact equivalent in English. To say a person has duende is the highest compliment. Can middle-aged women do ballet? Margot Fonteyn did. A person with duende can do anything at any age, so a lady with duende can dance anything any time. I asked Rego if the ostrich women had duende. “They have,” she said grudgingly, “now and again”. But The Ostriches, that is surely a masterpiece of duende.

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