Tango in Malta owes its origin to Maestro Eric Jorissen, the director of the tango institution El Corte situated in the city of Nijmegen, 1.5hr by train away from Amsterdam in The Netherlands.
Aldo and Natalie who currently offer their teaching services with Isla del Tango owe a lot to El Corte as it has been our main tango school for our learning and our source of inspiration throughout . Maestro Jorissen still mentors the Malta Tango Community and offers 2 workshops in Malta per year.
If you want to get an insider’s peek click HERE.
The official website is THIS.
Tango Daddy: Maestro Eric Jørissen
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME, RIGHT DANCE
Isla del Tango invited Laura Best to meet Maestro Eric Jørissen (October 2012).
They spoke about Argentine Tango, Maltese history and stilettos.
Maestro Eric is Malta’a Argentine Tango daddy & mentor.
It’s a Wednesday evening, and I find myself sat in an unusually full and noisy restaurant, a world apart from where I thought I would be at this time of day, mere hours before. But the promise of good food and even better company is something to which a girl just can’t say no, especially when that company includes Maestro Eric Jørissen, a Dutchman who is noted for evolving Argentine Tango in Malta and throughout Europe, to where it is today.
Eric is currently in Malta having been invited back to the island by the local Argentine tango school, Isla Del Tango, to celebrate the “Fiesta de Quince”, an aptly named series of workshops happening this week to commemorate 15 years since Eric first inspired the creation of Isla Del Tango in Malta. The Fiesta will culminate in a major Tango Milonga (Tango social dance) and artistic programme in his honour on Saturday night.
Chewing on homemade ravioli, then, I’m offered the chance to quiz Eric about anything I want – so I start with his background. He tells me that, as a child of the sixties and with his parents both keen dancers, dancing was in his blood from the off. Despite dabbling in other activities such as badminton or joining a choir, eventually Eric gave in and begun learning varying dance disciplines under the encouragement of his parents.
“So why Tango?” I ask him. Eric explains that Tango wasn’t really danced in Holland until after the Falklands War ended, but after watching the show; “Tango Argentino”, and the 1985 film “El exilio de Gardel” – which featured music by famed Tango composer Astor Piazzolla – he was mesmerised, and hooked.
In 1987, he went on to take his first Tango class, which he remembers to this day (It’s odd – I’ve never met a Tanguero who doesn’t remember their very first class: there’s something about it that everyone recalls). This class was made up of only four people, however, and was more a shared knowledge exchange from the dancers in the “Tango Argentino” show than an actual teacher/student class. After years of saving, Eric was able at last to go to Buenos Aires, where his Tango career could really take shape. Along his Tango journey he also met several mentors, including Antonio Todaro and the man whom he would come to call his “Tango father”, Pepito Avellaneda.
I ask him what it is about Tango that has kept him dancing it for this considerable length of time. I sense he’s been asked this before, as, without hesitation, Eric responds that it is the thing “keeping you going on living”. As deep as this sounds, he elaborates that it is “the improvisation, the freshness, the hidden depths” of the dance that inspire him to go on, always finding “new layers in the music”. Eric also admits that teaching is his real passion however, that being able to share, and to “lead someone into that land” is the thing that moves him the most to keep dancing.
I’m still trying to catch him out with something he’s never been asked before, so I ask him what his favourite Tango song to dance to is: his quick-fire response is “Todo”, “El Recodo”, “Desde El Alma” and Canaro’s “SOS”.
Darn it – but good choices though, I’ll admit. Then I hit him with “which Tango step best reflects your personality?”
By George, she’s done it. I’ve stumped him! After some careful thought, Eric answers; “I am the preparation before any step”.
Wow. Best response ever.
I recover by moving onto El Corte, his renowned Tango school in Nijmegen, which has 500 weekly students and 800 active dancers. Meaning “The Cut”, Eric explains that El Corte was created around a quarter of a century ago, to offer Tango students the chance to escape and to dance freely, without conforming to the staunch ballroom schedule only available until that time for potential dancers. This made El Corte, and Eric, the “Black sheep” of the dance community for a time, until it was impossible to refute the style of the school as being the best for learning Argentine Tango. Oh and one more, tiny, thing: legendary Tango composer Osvaldo Pugliese opened the school.
I’ll wait for the Tango stalwarts amongst you to peel your jaws off the floor before I carry on. Ready? Good.
Fighting the urge to touch any person who’s been in the presence of Pugliese, I press on. I ask Eric about the history behind the Fiesta de Quince and the creation of Isla Del Tango: Eric explains how Charlotte Stuart had come to El Corte, and decided to bring Tango back to Malta somehow, so had asked Eric to teach some classes. From these birthed a nucleus of Tango enthusiasts who helped in the creation of Isla del Tango, with Aldo Calleja teaching new students under Eric’s guidance. Despite being initially difficult to sustain, the community grew over the years into what we have today. “And what of the future?”, I ask. Eric shared that he hopes Maltese Tango will continue to grow under the current dedication of dancers and teachers alike, with everyone focussed on increasing quality and openness across the board, to take Malta to the next level.
At this point, I recall a quote by Eric, that read along the lines of “no good dancer complains about their dance shoes” – to which I automatically then think “there speaks a man who’s never danced for 5 hours in stilettos”. Well, as it turns out, he has. I asked him, and he admitted it. It makes me feel better to know that he’s tried it, and describes the experience as “decidedly uncomfortable”. I’ll say.
He is asked by one of our companions at table whether it’s true that he coached the dancers on the film “Evita”, and, unsurprisingly by now, he admits that it is, although only due to him being in the right place at the right time. I sense that this is a recurring theme for Eric – everything that has happened to him in life happened because he was open and receptive to it, at the right place and right time. Funnily enough, this is his very same recipe for excellent Tango: now’s the time.
On Saturday the 27th of October 2012, Isla del Tango organised a grand milonga & party aptly entitled Fiesta de Quince to celebrate the 15 years of Argentine Tango in Malta and Isla del Tango’s 15th birthday. All this happened in the fine halls of Palazzo de Piro, Mdin.
Maestro is a born teacher and cannot not pass on this tango teachings in the most understandable of terms with the most inventive and fantastic metaphors to clarify points. He is also a wonderful dancer; connected and playful. Just delicious.
Some of online demos for social tango which is taught by Maestro Eric :