Thursday, 28 July 2011

European Milongueras - Céline Devèze

I know, that the term „Milonguera“ was in earlier times often used pejoratively to describe women of questionable moral conduct, who frequented the Milongas. (Please have a look at Cherie‘s historic definition.) But nowadays, a big majority just uses the word as the feminine form of Milonguero: a women, spending all her spare time at the Milongas, living for the embrace in a traditional setting - in contrast to a professional show-dancer, who strives for choreographies or impressive moves. This change of meaning is proven by the fact, that some of the most popular Milongas in Buenos Aires organise special „Noches de las Milongueras“ to honour the women, who have dedicated their lives to Tango. So please allow me to use the term „Milonguera“ in the same positive way.

I would like to introduce today‘s honouree with her own words, translated from French:
„Argentine Tango is a universe that comes to life though the body of your partner, the embrace of the couple, mutual exchange and respect. It is a magical moment, a pure emotion full of vibrations and poetry, that we long to relive indefatigably.“

I encountered Céline Devèze 2007 in Lyon, when she participated in some of our classes with her former partner Philippe Gonella. She is a very refined French young lady with a taste for luxury and an elaborate language, that she uses to describe her passion for Tango. And from the beginning, she struck me as a very sensitive and emotional being. Even during class, she would give in completely to the embrace and the feeling - in a way that infatuated all the guys. And still does. You already met Céline in my former post, dancing with Andreas Wichter, who‘s a big fan of hers. ;-)

Céline lives in the south of France, in Grasse, a historic town up the hills near the white beaches of the Côte D‘Azur. She started dancing almost 10 years ago and took classes with Pablo & Béatrice Ojeda, Thierry Lecocq & Véronique Bouscasse, Térésa Cunha, Graciela Gonzales, Géraldine Rojas, Silvina Vals, Maria Plazaola and Aurora Lubiz amongst others. She once told me, that Veronique Bouscasse was her most important influence in the first years.

You can tell, that Tango conquered her life completely. Very early in her career as a Milonguera, Céine co-founded the Tango association „Cariño Tango“ and started giving classes with Philippe Gonella. She travelled to all the events in reach and became a fixture in the Milongas in Nimes, Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier... Nowadays, her radius has expanded as she frequents the traditional Milongas and Encuentros in Italy as well as in other countries like the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. In the last few years, you often see her name amongst the DJs of a traditional Festival. Once a year, she organises a big event in her home region - La Pasionara It takes place at carnival and features workshops, demos and sometimes life-music. Céline‘s latest passion is photographing and filming. So, when you do not see her dancing at a Milonga, she‘s most likely pointing her camera at you to capture all the lovely embraces, that mean so much to her. And after the event, she‘ll compose a beautiful video, that makes you want to cry. She‘s obviously a women of many talents! I guess, the last year, when she was unfortunately unemployed , must have been one of her best years ever - because she had the time to travel to all the great events without having to fit in a tiring business schedule.

When it comes to dancing, her passionate embrace is unrivalled and all the best dancers are lining up to dance with her. The women admire (and sometimes envy) her elegant moves and understated decorations. So, Céline dances and dances and dances... I have never seen her leave a Milonga before the end - no matter how late it is!

I am going to show you three videos:
The first one shows her performing with Philippe Gonella.
The second one is a film about her big event „La Pasionara“. Check out all the great social dancers, who Céline manages to bring together.
The last video shows impressions from her „Milonga Linda“ and tells us, what Tango really means to Céline.

I proudly present a European Milonguera:

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!

Monday, 11 July 2011

The European Milongueros & Milongueras

So here I am again. I‘ve been thinking about what to write, when an idea hit me:
There are quite some blogs, who feature the „old Milongueros“ of Buenos Aires. That‘s very important and I always enjoy reading about their experiences or seeing them dancing. But I‘d like to introduce you to the European Milongueros and Milongueras in a series of blog articles over the next weeks.

And, yes - they do exist! Men and women who dedicate their life to social Tango in the traditional Milongas in Europe and all around the globe. Dancers who cherish the embrace above all, who dance with all their heart and passion - and sometimes give up everything they‘ve achieved in real-life just to dance. And sometimes teach or DJ... Not to become rich or famous - it's just that they could not imagine, investing time in something else than Tango. Most of them are still young - in their 30s or 40s - but they‘ve acquired already quite some Tango-wisdom by travelling, dancing, reading, talking to people - just living the Tango - as the „old Milongueros“ do!
And they are my friends. Some of them, I know since ages, others, I‘ve just met recently. You surely know some of them personally. I find, they deserve a tribute on my blog, for: We share one philosophy and many embraces. 
So, I poudly present: The European Milongueros!

I give up - for the moment!

For the last 1,5 years, I've been trying to study for a master in "European Modern History & Literatur". Although I was well aware, that it would take me years to complete it, I was still confident that I could make it. I have to admid, that I was wrong.
My work as a Tango teacher & DJ, my blogging activities and several other interests do not allow me to spend enough time to seriously progress in this degree programm. I can only concentrate on so much at a time. I'm sad about this decision, but I have to let it be for the moment. 
Once I'm done with Tango, I'm going to pursue the task of becoming a Master of History anew. But for the moment, I will confine myself in studying history just for the fun of it. And that's actually not so bad, as it leaves me the time, to read what I want to read and not what I'm supposed to read! ;-)