As chance would have it, I was lucky enough to have the following people cross my path:
Thanks to Patricio (banjo), I got to know Antonio, the head of the Alabama Dixieland Jazzband. From the start, we got along very well and would frequently outperform each other with our communication skills, causing the fountain of creativity to almost overflow with ideas, while Patricio gallantly took a backseat. In the end, there was only one question left to answer: What makes our still developing Dixiemania a good Dixiemania? Good photos, quite simply. As if! I started looking for a young photographer, someone who would know how to speak in images. By chance (?), I met Fran Casanova, a young Canarian director, while shooting in Garachico. I saw his short film Indiana Jones y la Búsqueda del Ídolo Perdido, and the poster as well as the pictures of the movie made my heart go faster. I was eager to learn who was the person behind the lense.
Two days later, I met Juan José Gutiérrez in a street café. A young man, tall and slim, with dark eyes, accompanied by a big black dog, dark-eyed as well – the two of them were hard to miss.
While I laid my notes on the table and tried to explain myself and the Dixiemania in a loud, hectic and enthralling manner, Juan José just sat there in silence, listened to what I had to say and didn’t avert his eyes from me. He was as cool as a cucumber. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how talented this young man was. He used his silence smartly to study my gestures, ideas and inner fire, and already started composing pictures in his mind’s eye while I kept talking and talking. The following day, he went location scouting in La Orotava, and sent me his suggestions, which had me electrified – he had understood every single word I had told him. And his photographs already spoke for themselves.
After that, everything happened very quickly: I organised a vintage car (a 1925 Packard), the permits for the exceptional motives and 1920s-style clothes. The photo shoot approached faster and faster, which made me a little panicky. What have I gotten myself into again? Except for Antonio and Patricio, the rest of the band members were completely unknown to me, and on top of that, I didn’t really know the photographer, either! Oh dear..! Disguised in my 1920s costume, I found myself on a street, in the middle of the summer, and tried to explain – a little stiff but with all my heart - to the whole crew that it was of the utmost importance for us to exude atmosphere as soon as the vintage car arrived. In other words, “Dixiemania with aura”, as quickly as possibly, since the car was available for only two hours. And it worked: when the Packard arrived, “my” boys’ eyes started to glare. We travelled back in time to the 1920s, movie-like situations came into being by our play instinct. The Roaring Twenties in the center of La Orotova! Tourists stopped to watch us, took pictures, shook their hips and took off again with a smile on their faces.
Juan José placidly captured the spontaneous jollity of our two-hour time travel in expressive photographs.
In July 2009, I went to the premiere of Jérome Savary’s À la recherche de Josephine, an unbelievably enthralling and elaborately staged revue about one of the stars of the 1920s, Josephine Baker. At the after-show party, there was a group of people dancing a wild Charleston, inciting the rest of the premiere guests to be seduced by this dance and shake a leg as well. “I want to learn this!”, I thought and made my way to the best of the dancers. “I need some private dancing lessons for my Dixiemania this summer”, I said and a flood of words left my mouth. “That can be done”, said Marcus tersely and thrust his card into my hand, when the artistic director of the Deutsches Theater joined us. “Mister Koch is my future dancing instructor”, I told her cheekily. “Well, you’ve picked the best there is!“, she answered and nodded her head in agreement. It was only after I got home that I noticed the words “world champion” on Marcus’s business card!
Shortly afterwards, the lessons with Marcus and Bärbl started. Two months of non-stop dancing, a true marathon. If only I had known how hard it was to learn to dance Charleston! But Marcus and Bärbl are extraordinary dancing partners and damn good teachers. Their intense lessons were far from “ordinary”. Thanks to Marcus’s metaphorical language, persistence and motivation, I have learned how to sit down while standing up and how to stand up while sitting down. I have learned to rediscover my body and to feel muscles I didn’t even know existed. I have learned to diagnose inner blockades that are reflected in my body posture. And I’ve learned that inhibitions are barricades which are easily overcome with twinkle toes. I have broadened my horizon and discovered a totally new me. Since then, I have been practising the Charleston choreography with a lot of discipline and with video instructions that Marcus especially recorded for me. An absolute gain in my life – learning by dancing!
Marcus and Bärbl are from Munich/Germany and have been dancing together since 1991. Becoming forerunners of the swing revival in the late 90s, they continue teaching workshops and camps. By means of their World of Swing instructional videos and classes, they spread Boogie Woogie, Swing, Balboa and Shag all over the world. Furthermore, in his function as sports manager, Marcus was also deeply involved in establishing the Boogie Woogie within the German Rock’n’Roll and Boogie Woogie Federation.
Marcus and Bärbl have always modelled themselves on the class and dynamics of past masters and developed their own distinct style. In 1996 and 1997, they were awarded the prestigious Feather Award in the USA. In 2002, they received the International Dance Teacher Award in Germany. They were included in the Camp Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2009.
Some of their numerous tournament achievements in Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop, Shag and Balboa include: World Champions Boogie Woogie, three times Vice World Champions Boogie Woogie, US Open Champions Swing, five times National Jitterbug Champions (USA), six times German Masters and Rock’n’Socks Marathon Winners.
For the fifth time this year, they organized the annual Rock That Swing Festival as well as the Balboa & Shag Weekend in Munich. Julia Kleiner (Translations Spanish/ English)
It was one of those little moments that make life worth living. One day, I found a message in my mailbox, sent by this young lady via an internet platform:
“All this time, I couldn’t figure out why your name was so familiar to me. But as I was sitting at my kitchen table a couple of days ago, mindlessly gazing at the bookshelf across the room, I suddenly knew why: I own your Little Poet! You can’t imagine what this book means to me!!! Last winter, I discovered it in a little book store and was so delighted by it, that I bought it as a present to myself for my 22nd birthday. Unfortunately, my own good sentence still hasn’t revealed itself to me…”
Her words were truly refreshing and filled my heart with childlike joy. Nine times out of ten, authors are endemic to an “unechoing room” with hardly any access to their readers. And in this special case, it was more than pure coincidence that brought us together, since my children’s book Der Kleine Dichter, the Little Poet, had started a little rusty, with only three copies sold after its publication in the autumn of 2008. One of those three copies was bought by Julia. And after I had learned that she had been brought up speaking more than one language and on top of it now studied languages, I was convinced: Julia was the one to translate my texts. Well, so that’s how it happened. And the results are impressive.
Julia Kleiner was born and raised in a small town near Heidelberg, in the southwest of Germany. As the daughter of a Thai mother and a German father, she was fortunate enough to grow up between two cultures, travel a lot and have some extra special memories from an early age. It was probably her grandmother’s predilection for German Schlager music that triggered her love for music and pop culture. In 2008, she started her own music blog huleeta.com. Besides music, she is also very much into literature and languages. After spending some time in the USA and Chile, she began studying English and Spanish philology at the University of Freiburg in 2006, ready and eager to learn what the future holds in store for her.
How do you find a new web designer? I was desperately looking for someone to create the online home for my Dixiemania. So I browsed the internet for web designers near me and, as fate would have it, clicked on a link that led me to Michael’s homepage. I liked what I saw, so I called and made an appointment with him. Two days later, Michael appeared on my doorstep, carrying a briefcase and a note pad. He was nice and obviously professional, but he rather came across like an insurance salesman. “Oh, this might be getting difficult”, I thought while thinking of our creative collaboration. As it turned out, I was wrong. A couple of days later, Michael showed me his first outlines and left me spoilt for choice between the many web versions he had come up with for me. I was thrilled and confused at the same time because of all the technical possibilities that could help me turn my creativity into something real. Michael is a perfectionist with an artistic streak and a great eye for details. Had I explained to him one of my “flowery” ideas, it was certain that he would translate this idea into something “realistic” by the next day. What followed were months of an extremely creative, exciting and amicable collaboration that was surely only the beginning of something bigger. And what a beginning it was!
Before I came storming into the Wagner family’s life, Yildiz had been a caring mother and supporting wife, who rather shunned the computer and didn’t think she was capable of doing something new because she was “only a housewife”. After years of female labour with my housewives’ revolution, I knew exactly how to repolish her female self-confidence. And while this woman told me “I can’t do it!” only a couple of months ago, she now plays a lone hand when it comes to putting all of the texts online and establishing and checking the links. There you go, I knew you could do it! Without her help, Michael and I could never have managed everything in that short space of time. And apart from this, it’s wonderful to trade recipes with Yildiz. This way, a whole family grew on me – creatively as well as culinarily.
...for helping to translate, edit and read the texts in Spanish. (It’s a letter friendship!)
...for reading and editing the texts in English. (Much more than an English cup of tea-friendship!)
...for editing the texts in German. (Word delinquent caught by word deeds)
…for translating the Goldenen Zwanziger into Spanish, lending an ear more than once time and filming her “Dancing Mama”.
...for translating the many letters and correspondence into Spanish.
...for lending an ear time and time again! (Was reimbursed with food.)
...for the vocal coaching.
...for being the “first“ Spanish reader of my texts.
...for collecting and writing down the words in Canarian dialect.
...for providing me with a lot of important information about the Isleños.
...the more than nice president of the island’s government for his support with the Cabildo.
The authors of the images have been named or indicated in the list of references as far as they could have been made out.