Background before tango
Oliver Koch (German) received a training as a dance teacher and a stage dancer in Hamburg and at the Rotterdam Dance Academy. He started his career as a contemporary dancer with Rosas, the well known dance company of choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, dancing in the performances Erts, Just Before, Achterland, Drumming, In Real Time and others. Oliver also danced with other companies, including Michèle Anne De Mey and Feria Musica (circus). He had a leading role in the dance films Les Noces and Love Sonnets (Thierry De Mey). In 1993, Oliver Koch discovered Argentine tango. It was a revelation and tango immediately occupied an important place in his life and dance career. For many years, Oliver combined his work as a modern dancer with his passion to dance and teach tango. At the end of 2001, he left Rosas in order to dedicate himself totally to his career in tango.
Marisa van Andel grew up in a Dutch family in Northern Italy. As a very young child already, she followed regular and frequent ballet and dance lessons of all kinds. Yet, when she left school, she opted for the university and moved to Brussels to study Journalism and European studies. From 1993 till 1998, she was working for the MEDIA programme of the European Union. At this time, Marisa also discovered the tango scene, where she met Oliver Koch. In 1998 she became the Promotion and press officer of Rosas dance company. After office hours, she already worked as a tango dancer and teacher. At the end of 2001 she left Rosas in order to dedicate herself fully to tango.
Tango background and training
Marisa & Oliver became dance partners and in life in 1996. They were trained by old tango maestros such as Pepito Avellaneda, Eduardo Arquimbau, Mingo Pugliese… as well as by many younger teachers (those who inspired them most were Javier & Geraldine, Natalia & Gabriel, Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne, Corina & Julio, Los Totis…) To keep growing and improving their technique and dancing style, Oliver & Marisa travelled often to Argentina, where they were working with the best teachers and milongueros.
At the start of their career as a tango couple, Marisa & Oliver created a non-profit association with the aim of developing, promoting and teaching tango in Belgium: Al compás del corazón (title of a famous tango meaning To the beat of the heart). In 2006 they opened their own permanent venue La Tangueria, close to the centre of Brussels, where they teach, organise milongas, host the Brussels Tango Marathon and the workshops of the Brussels Tango Festival, rent (party) rooms, propose a collection of tango shoes and clothes…
During their 20 years as a tango couple, Marisa and Oliver have developed their own personal style of dance. Unlike many professionals who opt for a specific kind of tango, Marisa & Oliver found their strength in the fusion of different styles and techniques. Their dancing proves the successful union of a cocktail of genres; combining the intimacy of the close embrace of the tango de salón with the rhythmic playfulness of the estilo milonguero, the creativity and technical skills of figures used in tango fantasía and the poetry and musicality of some neo tango elements. Their tango expresses the fusion and connection that develop between two individuals when tango melodies give rise to a pure improvisation dance, unleashing a set of challenges and surprises.
Marisa & Oliver’s teaching focuses on one hand on the technique of tango movements, and on the other on improvisational tools. The main quality of their educational approach is to constantly analyze the characteristics of different styles of tango. To illustrate their aim, they use traditional or original figures, but the emphasis is always on the essence of tango: the connection in the abrazo, the techniques and tools of leading and following, the active role and elegance of the movements of the lady, the consciousness of the individual and shared axis… they also care a lot about harmony, fluidity, synchronisation and interpretation of the music.
These unique didactics brought some major professional international dance and circus schools, such as PARTS, ESAC, SEAD, to invite Marisa & Oliver to teach workshops on the techniques of couple dancing and improvisation tools to their students.
Oliver and Marisa have been teaching and performing since 1996 all over Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as in Italy, France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Switzerland, the USA, Turkey and Buenos Aires.
They have been invited as artists at several international tango festivals in Brussels, Dusseldorf, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Bologna, Ferrara, Firenze, Hasselt, Roma, Cordes, Lille, Umea, Washington DC.
They danced in shows and at festivals together with famous orchestras such as Los Reyes del Tango, Color Tango, Solo Tango, Roulotte Tango, Silencio, Silbando, Ensemble Hyperion, Quinteto Zárate, Otra, Juan José Mosalini, Tango 02, Quinteto Quilombo, Tango Dorado, Tango al Sur, Dirk Van Esbroek, Veritango, Alfredo Marcucci…
They created, choreographed and danced in successful shows: Ensueños de tango, Orfeus en de Hellehond van de Hades, Motivo de tango, Bailáme, Estrellas del Sur et Azen. They were also invited as tango choreographers to contribute to several leading theatre, dance and circus productions. As such they collaborated with renown artists, including Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jan Fabre, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Frank Groothof, Dimitri Leue, Hubert Damen, Feria Musica, Ensemble Leporello.
They created a choreography for the British remake of the famous Flemish TV series Professor T, and they appeared in various television programmes (Let’s Dance, Witse, Sterren op de Dansvloer), video clips (Deze Tango by Michael Lanzo, Een laatste Nacht by Duende Doble) and commercials (Telenet, Confederation Cup).
Among Marisa & Oliver’s students there are many celebrities: Angelo Dello Spedale, Bas Teeken, Ben Miller, Chris Thys, Dimitri Leue, Dirk Opstaele, Evgenia Brendes, Francesca Vanthielen, Jaco Van Dormael, Juliet Aubrey, Krista Bracke, Lotte Pinoy, Lucas Vandervost, Lukas De Wolf, Marc Van Steenkiste, Nico Sturm, Paul Raes, Philippe De Coen, Robert Van de Walle, Sandrine Laroche, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui…
Marisa & Oliver in the media
- Interview of Marisa & Oliver on Ment TV (NL)
- Interview of Marisa & Oliver in the magazine Tango Danza (in DE)