Thursday, 14 July 2011

European Milongueros - Andreas Wichter

Now, nobody will be surprised, that I chose Andreas as the first European Milonguero to be presented in my blog. But for those, who do not know me so well or have not been reading my all my posts: 

Andreas Wichter is the person with whom I started dancing Tango in the mid-90s. We go way back (when he still had black hair) and without him, I would never have immersed myself into this new world. It was his idea to take Tango classes and in the beginning, I thought, it was just to please me. But I was mistaken. This guy meant business. 

I should not have been surprised, because that‘s Andreas‘ way: whatever he decides to do, he will really plunge into it. His two former purposes in life had been Wing Chun and Roleplaying Games: He had started Martial Arts in 1983, travelled to Hongkong and taught it for over 10 years. Roleplaying Games did not remain a pastime for him either: every minute available he (and me) spend preparing games and researching for them historically, travelling to conventions, writing and editing a fanzine and translating Roleplaying manuals professionally. You can see the pattern: He takes something up as a hobby and soon the passion becomes so overwhelming, that it‘ll evolve into a profession. And his big love was meant to be Tango! 

So, who is this crazy guy and what is his Tango like? 

Andreas is German and was born in the town where I live, Saarbrücken. Although he studied for some years in Berlin, he came back to his home town and this is where we discovered Tango. After a first introduction to Tango in 1995-96, we gave it up again. Classes were bad and no Milongas existed in our region. But from January 2000 we got really into it and this is when Andreas‘ passion for Tango really came into bloom: After having been introduced to close embrace Tango de Salon by his early mentor Just Kuhl, he started travelling to all Milongas and Festivals within reach, taking classes with many important teachers and couples: Hernan Obispo & Mariana Dragone, Chicho, Eric Jorissen & Komala, Mauricio Castro, „El Pibe“ Sarandi & Elina Roldan, „El Turco“ Jose Brahemcha, Rodolfo „El Chino“ & Miho, Eduardo Capussi & Mariana Flores, Javier Rodriguez & Andrea Misse. But his main influences were definitely two of the big Milongueros: Tete, who influenced him strongly and Gavito, who changed Andreas‘ dance overnight. But taking classes and going to Milongas was not enough for him and he spend almost every waking hour watching videos on the newly created Youtube, listening to Tango music and practising movements alone. His roommate (my very good friend Juliana of the Tangokombinat) went bonkers because she could hear him walking and pivoting all night above her head in the attic room. You can imagine, that his job as a freelance webdesigner, journalist and Wing Chun teacher suffered immensely... 

In late 2003 he started dancing with Anne-Cecile Dubois from Metz (France) and teaching in Luxembourg. After we had founded the Tangokombinat in December 2004, Andreas‘ teaching activities became even more time-consuming. Apart from teaching in our hometown, Andreas co-operated with Detlef and me in the weekly classes in Metz (France) and Landau (Germany) and was invited to teach at Festivals and events in Germany, Belgium, the UK and France. In 2005 he met the lovely Lynn Collins and spend more and more time in the UK, to were he finally moved in 2009. Now he‘s giving classes in the Southwest of the UK as well as in London and is organising the "Abrazos - Encuentro Milonguero UK“ with his life partner. Whenever possible, Andreas travels to the important Milonguero Festivals in Italy and France. And we are - of course - still organising the "Festivalito con Amigos" as a Tangokombinat event. All his-non Tango-activities have been reduced to a absolute minimum and I can assure you, that he‘s one of the most dedicated and strict teachers, that I‘ve ever met. As a DJ, he slowly manages to influence the „eclectic“ UK Tango culture with his very traditional approach and has been invited to work at numerous events on the continent. 

Wherever he goes, Andreas is one of the most sought-after partners for women who want to experience a musical Tango with a strong connection. He‘s got an immaculate axis that makes turned movements so easy - a result of 30 years of martial arts, I guess. I always find, that he‘s the most traditional of my close friends: his Tango is very similar to the dance of the Milongueros in Buenos Aires and you can still feel a lot of Tete in his movements. He nevertheless dissociates and communicates with very modern body concepts. This is where you can feel the influence of the more „nuevo“ teachers and our close co-operation. It is the rhythmic music, that I prefer to dance with Andreas: Tangos by Biagi and Valses of every kind. With this music, he develops a very unique and powerful dynamic, that you may not see from the outside, but feel in the couple. Andreas is furthermore the ONLY man, with whom I dance very fast Milongas - and still do decorations, because I feel so comfortable. When he‘s not around, I sit them out... 

And now you may sit back and watch Andreas dance. 

I want to present two videos: In the first, we are dancing to „El Adios“ by Donato at our Festivalito con Amigos . In the second, you can see him dancing with Céline Devèze at the 2009 edition of „Les Cigales“ in the south of France during a Tanda of Biagi. I especially like the last bit, when we leads Céline into a turn of forward steps in both directions. Beautiful. That‘s no performance, just social dancing. And it shows best, what Andreas is: a Milonguero with all his heart!






10 comments:

msHedgehog said...

Just Kuhl. You couldn't make this stuff up, could you?

Melina Sedo said...

I swear, that's his name. Back then, I did not even think about the funny english meaning...

:-)

Melina Sedo said...

And to prove it:
http://www.bailemos.de/wir01_c.html

See!

Barbara said...

don't be surprised if Andreas doesn't talk to you ever again, once he starts being haunted by hordes of women thanks to this post! (and I'll be one of them!)

Melina Sedo said...

I'm not worried. If he ignores me, I just intimidate him with my raised eyebrow. That works always! ;-)

Verena said...

Andreas still my bestest teacher I ever had!! Great story :-)

Terpsichoral said...

Danke fuer die Post! Ich werde Andreas in ein paar Wochen kennen- und tanzenlernen. Ich bin ja gespannt und, nachdem was ich hier gelesen habe, freue ich mich noch mehr darauf.

Andreas said...

No pressure then...

;-)

msHedgehog said...

I do love that one with Céline, it's gorgeous x

jantango said...

Miguel Angel Balbi is a milonguero in Buenos Aires who gives this definition of a milonguero: a self-taught tango dancer with his own style who dances with any woman and makes her happy dancing elegantly and accompanied. The styles are not learned in tango schools. They are different forms of feeling and demonstrating it in the dance.

The milongueros I know in BsAs were self-taught. This is important. Today the schools are producing clones.

When the milongueros are gone, there will never be another generation of self-taught tango dancers.