If it takes 2, Copes would never have invented choreography for tango without Maria. Yes, he would have danced no matter what. But it was Maria he danced with on the big stages of the world all those years (over 4 decades).

When tango was put near death by the military at home, they took their new form of it to the world. They kept it alive.

They were regulars on the Ed Sullivan Show and in Las Vegas for years. How's that for spreading tango?

Of course we all know we are here because Tango Argentino was such a smash on Broadway in the 80s.

Friends know my introduction to tango in 1989 was being spellbound by a Copes/Nieves Company (38 dancers, musicans, crew) stage production I saw over 30 times in Toronto where I lived at the time.

Juan gave me my first tango lessons, music, first custom dance shoes and so much information during late-night after-show dinners with them. Incomparable Maria Nieves Rego was then my dear sister-in-law for 10 years; still dear to me now - are you kidding? And she generously gave me her pristine vinyl record collection! So, years before the internet, when I knew nothing about tango and couldn't just do a search like we would now, how fortunate I was to have been informed and nurtured in person by the gods, as it were.

Maria driving me around B.A. - especially to-and-from Casa Blanca when she was performing - are some of my fondest memories ever. She really goes! No pusslies allowed in her car!

This new film - playing in art cinemas and film festivals around the world - is about Maria and Juan, so it is of particular interest. How I understand the complex multiple hoops the filmmakers jumped through to get it done. Like herding cats, as they say. Carlos Suara wasn't able to get them in the same film, even separately like in this one. These producers invented some kinks to make it happen and when parts don't work so well, we ought to not be too picky about it. It's a document history should have. (Go ahead - try to name one tango film that is evenly satisfying).

As she did in Assassination Tango, Nieves jumps out as the person you really want to hear from. She contentedly put up with being Juan's second fiddle for so many years, but when he unceremoniously dumped her (understandable from his pov) to dance with his daughter back when, she just said, fine. Have a nice life. You're out of mine.

I believe she was then quite surprised to find out how much the world loves and admires HER. She always assumed that nobody noticed how much she made Juan look good for decades. Nobody was ever more deserving of long-overdue appreciation.

Copes' place in history is secure as a very great man through decades of hard work and searing creativity and dominant, wise leadership. He is universally credited with saving tango after the fascists did their best to kill it. Pugliese and Troilo and Piazzolla and Sexteto Mayor were at various times and for years his backing band, following his dictates as the boss. He put food in everybody's mouth for so many years. He kept it alive (in a new form he created, stage tango) from the 50s until his crowning achievement, Tango Argentino on Broadway, in 1986. From whence the international tango scene comes today. 'Nuff said.

But see the film and get a glimpse - that's all she ever shows the public - of tango's most amazing and influential woman. Ever.

Gavito Book
click to purchase