Winnie aspires to be a complete musician. Not only does she prefer to play her instrument and understand the style of music well, she has the need to connect and inspire. Argentine tango fits like a glove as Winnie’s prime medium of expression, now with the bandoneon as her second instrument along with the piano.
Tango has everything Winnie needs: theatricals, dance, music, exotic poetry based on everyday themes for and by everyday people, and the universality of the experience. Winnie has most things that could be of service to tango: classically-trained pair of piano hands, European-contemporary-classical composer’s brain, multi-lingual tongue, untrained but functional pair of dancer’s legs, and most importantly, a passionate Southerner’s temperament and a wide-open mind. All that was needed to put Tango with Winnie was a little serendipity.
“It was the summer of 2014. As my husband and I were taking a breath from the busy life of raising two young children, we found ourselves at our first tango dance lesson in a small yoga studio down the street. We have never danced before; nor have we heard tango. As we clumsily looked for our knees and ankles, we were completely taken by surprise by the power of connection in this simple walk of a dance. Two days later, again with a little luck, we found ourselves in a 150-person strong milonga, a tango dance party. That night, there was a live tango band.
It did not take more skills than what we had as beginner dancers to be mesmerized by what we witnessed: 150 dancers, hugging in pairs, moving together as one organism, responding intimately to the vibration of the music sent directly from a live group of musicians. The young was dancing with the old; the tall with the short; the poor with the rich; the European with the Asian; the woman with another woman. There were no words between them.”
It was a mind-blowing experience for Winnie, mostly as a musician but as a dancer, too. She will never forget how the dance helped her find the music; how the music drove the dance; and how neither discriminates.
That night signaled the end of Winnie’s musical hibernation and the beginning of her life as a dancer. The busy mom (that is still Winnie) has since reorganized her life, and has put tango squarely in balance with all else important to her life: family, community, music and dance.
Winnie went on stage for the first time as a tango pianist in 2015 with the Tanguero Workshop, led by Cuarteto Tanguero, and joined Cuarteto Tanguero in 2016 as the pianist. That same year, the band was invited to perform at the Kuan Du International Arts Festival and Taiwan’s National University of the Arts, and in Macau and Hong Kong. In the US, Cuarteto Tanguero is the featured band yearly at the Louisville Tango Festival, and has appeared at numerous concerts, milongas, seminars and workshops across the states. The band premiered Indiana University composition professor Aaron Travers’ Elementos in 2018. That same year Cuarteto Tanguero’s CD Guapeando was released, coming in at #8 on Billboard’s World Music Chart. Cuarteto Tanguero is Ben Bogart, bandoneón; Daniel Stein, violin; Matt McConahay, bass; Winnie Cheung, piano.
Also in 2015, Winnie formed the duo Tamango with violinist Julia Shannon, later expanded with guitarist Maximiliano Larrea, violinist Jennie Gubner, singer Tomás Lozano, cellist Isabel Kwon and guitarist Leandro Fosque. Tamango has taken stage on numerous concerts, milongas, workshops and all-age outreach programs, including Purdue University’s tango club La Milonguera, the Mathers Museum, Jacob School of Music’s Auer Hall and Indiana University’s University Club, Bloomington Montessori School, Meadowood Retirement Home, the Better Day Dementia Care Home, the Player’s Pub, among others. Reborn anew in 2021, Tamango, your premier tango sextet of the Midwest, aspires to bring live tango music to every tango dance floor in the Midwest and spread the joy and love of live music making from 5-year-olds in the park to 95-year-olds in retirement homes. Tamanguitos is the kids-division of Tamango, formed in 2018. Children as young as 5-year-old can now play tango alongside with its parent band Tamango! Check out the videos on this site!
Since 2018, Ben & Winnie (http://benwinnie.com) has taken stages by storm across the US, Canada and Argentina. “The raw energy of a full tango orchestra compacted into an intimate duo” – Ben & Winnie performs with no shoes and no music, holding their audience captive everywhere they go. Striving to make the world a better place one tango at a time, Ben & Winnie reaches communities beyond tango aficionados with their firm belief that tango is for everyone, that music connects people beyond politics, race, and class.
Winnie earned her Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago. She actively participated in all three tango workshops in the United States: Tanguero Workshop (2015-2019), Stowe Music Festival (2016), and Tango for Musicians at Reed College (2018/2021).
Winnie travels yearly to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studies piano with the most inspiring maestros of tango: Julián Peralta, Nicolás Ledesma, Adrián Enríquez, Juan Pablo Gallardo and Exequiel Mantega. She began her bandoneon studies during the 2020 Pandemic with Hugo Satorre, Aude Bresson and Pablo Jaurena. She actively performs on both the piano and the bandoneon at every Tango with Winnie event. She “dances her music” also — like a fellow tango dancer would say — taking every opportunity to express her world view through tango.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Winnie is a well-traveled global individual. Currently, she is based in Bloomington, Indiana, United States, with her husband and two young children, Rowan and Linden, who are proud members of Tamanguitos. She cooks and tangos everywhere in the world she goes, including Antarctica.