Article published in Telling in Tandem by Tim Bowley and retrived by our webside with author's consent. Lots of thanks, Tim.



I must admit that when I first received the invitation to contribute to this book, I had never before heard the term 'Tandem Telling' in spite of spending the last twenty five years as a Storyteller. I assume it means people who tell as part of a pair or group, each telling a tale one after the other. If so, this is quite a long way removed from what I and my telling partner do, although I suppose you could definitely call it 'tandem telling'. I live and work in Spain and, due to a congenital British inability to learn a foreign language to anywhere near the level required to tell, I work with a Spanish partner who translates the story into Spanish as we go along, so, rather than interchanging story by story, we are swapping phrase by phrase. 

On hearing this described, many people think that it must be very boring to listen to but, wonderfully, magically, mysteriously, the reverse is true and the listener gets two versions, two interpretations, of the same story. Add to that a rythmic interplay of male and female voice, the music of two different languages running side by side, two perceptions of each event in the story, and the effect is hypnotic. There is a shamanic exercise in which someone whispers into one ear of the acolyte while another whispers something different in the other. The effect is to break the hearer free from his normal level of consciousness and propel him into another dimension. I believe that telling in this way has something of the same magic about it and actually increases the power that storytelling possesses to lift the listener out of everyday reality into worlds where anything is possible.


I have been telling stories every week in a school in the mountains near Madrid for several years. But one Monday, I noticed that something was different as soon as I walked through the door. The children were moving in silence with serious faces and the teachers were whispering in the corridors. Soon I became part of the secret that everyone already knew: the father of one of the girls from the 5th grade and died the day before in unpleasant circumstances.
And I was just about to tell stories to this girl’s class! The pupils came in looking confused and I could see from their faces they were withholding their emotions. I decided to keep to my plan and tell then a Finnish story about a magic pine cone with magical powers that could multiply everything by one thousand. At the end of the story, I told them how sad I felt about what had happened and about my desire to send this girl love and strength to overcome this difficult moment in her life path. I also hoped that the magic pinecone could multiple the effect even more.

Spanish / Catalan / Basque / Galician



Where does Europe begin? Where does it end? Along what border, village, or mountain range...? Is it called Europa as in Sweden? Or is it Europe, as they say in England? Or again Evropa as in Serbo-Croatian? Is Europe a sign of separation, or rather a promise of overture? Is Europe defined by what makes us different or what makes us alike - through our desires and fears? And why, by the Gods, does Europe have the name of a Phoenician princess?

But whatever the answers might be that we continue to search for here, onething is sure - stories have always been able to travel far and wideacross Europe, needing neither passport nor visa, bringing along whatneeds to be said, and sharing generously with all who would like to listen.Stories have been presented here as ‘borderless’ and this is indeed the case. But at the same time they have roots, powerful roots, and roots can be of two natures: they can dig down deep into the earth, or run along just under the surface. The roots of storytelling share these two characteristics. They plunge profoundly into the culture or cultures of the country where they were born, but also spread out from the homeland and may grow in other lands, adapting to the local language and culture.

And if the imagery here has to do with the ground, the earth, it could be extended to the other traditional elements as well: stories have travelled over the seas with sailors and adventurers – so they can flow like water; they can be ‘airy ’ and ‘breathy ’ and be sung from one place to another; and they can even inflame you, as the tongues of fire in the biblical reference or in the image of the carnival fire eaters, and even in the Mayan as well as Chinese ideo-gramatical writing systems in which to speak is represented as fire spit from the mouth!



We tell and narrate tales to find ourselves in them.

We give them voice through the air we breathe, so that its frequency echoes in the one that listens.

We tell ancient and modern tales through our body and our way of expressing.

We tell from within our inside, leaving room for the emptiness so that this vacuum can express itself.

That is why we breathe the words we orally give away to whoever listen to us.

All the rest happens by itself, nobody else takes part.

Tales arise from the storyteller´s emptiness, from its zerO, which is Oxygen, and from there the tales display themselves in Orality.

From Orality, through that zerO´s Oxygen, they come back to the each one´s emptiness.

From one silence to the other, going through the teller´s voice.


Translated by Estibi Minguez