Diego Echenique — an interview

Marion, Diego and Bev

Diego transformed the Auckland tango scene in late 2007, when he founded the Pasión Por Tango studio with fellow tango enthusiasts Marion and Bev, lovely people who are in his words like his "kiwi mothers". He needs to get up early for his work in a logistics company, so we are impressed that he still dances in milongas regularly, after teaching classes during the week.

What got you into tango? When was that?

I was born listening to Tango. My grandfather used to dance Tango. I remember when I was a child that in Argentina was a TV program whose name was Grandes valores del Tango that I used to watch with my grandparents. Then my mother introduced me to the Tango when she asked me to go with her to a Tango show. I was 17!! There I discovered that I wanted to dance Tango.

What do you love about tango, or what does tango mean to you?

Tango is my life!! I was born and grew up with the Tango music. It's in my blood!! I have been spending a lot of time in Argentina improving my Tango, dancing in the milongas, practising with my Argentinian dance partners, practising for shows, etc. Everything I was doing in my life, including my degree, always was around the Tango. What I like about Tango is that everywhere you go, you will find people or friends with a different culture that dance Tango.

How long have you been teaching tango for?

I have been teaching for 8 years in Argentina. Only 1 year in Auckland.

Which tango dancers have you learnt from, or who inspire you?

Gabito and Jorge Firpo taught me the secrets in the milonga. Osvaldo Zotto and a very good friend of mine Alejandro Barrientos taught me the style in the choreographies and the secrets in the Tango stage. Then I had other very good teachers who taught me different things to grow my style. Like Pablo Villarraza y Dana, Julio Balmaceda y Corina de la Rosa, Adrian Aragon y Erica Boaglio, etc.

Which style(s) of tango would you say you dance and/or teach?

I like to dance and teach Tango salon. But, I love Tango stage or Tango show that it's completely different because to do it well you need a very good technique. So in the stage I mix the passion with the Tango salon and the energy and the technique with the Tango show.

What are your classes like?

I have a good number of people that follow me in each class. They are very enthusiastic when I explain about the music, the orchestras, the styles, why each orchestra we dance different, I like to explain about the history of the Tango. Also I like to transmit them my experience in the milongas in Buenos Aires, with my teachers and when I used to dance with companies in Argentina. I focus on the connection that they need with the partner, with the music and the space. The connection in the embrace. We do a lot of technique with a lot of exercises to them transmit the technique into the dance. Now I'm teaching Tango beginners, intermediate and Tango Nuevo.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring tango dancers?

I remember that Virulazo (a very popular Milonguero dancer in Buenos Aires) used to say: "Nunca te creas que sos el mejor bailarin porque en ese momento dejas de aprender".
That means: "Never think that you are the best dancer because in that moment you stop learning".

I would like to say thank you very much to Marion, Bev and John because they give me the opportunity to start. Thank you very much for help me at the beginning and for still believe in me.

Diego Echenique
June 2008

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