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  Maria Nieves  
Nieves My sister-in-law for 10 years as I know her.  

MARIA NIEVES has in many ways embodied the image of Tango both inside and outside of Argentina for the last 4 1/2 decades.

Maria and her incredible partner, Juan Carlos Copes, were introduced to the world by Fransisco Canaro (in his farewell concert) after winning acclaim through hard work in Buenos Aires.

(Juan was the first person to choreograph Tango and put it on stage using professional dancers - just at the same time his friend Astor Piazzolla was re-thinking Tango's musical form. They worked together many times over the ensuing years).


Copes now showed the world that his vision of what Tango could be was the way to go. Maria was the half that people watched. Show Tango is about the woman's legs.

Piazzolla & Ferrer (Maria de Buenos Aires), promoters, art directors, and countless others have photographed and used Maria's legs in posters, CD covers, and on video. But it's not the legs that one should notice. It's the whole person. Because in there, is Tango. Just watch her walk.


MARIA was 14 when Copes found out that his then-partner, Maria's older sister &emdash;ata, was quitting. He needed a partner. He took Maria (lying about her age to the club owners). They were an immediate sensation.

With Copes' imagination and the couple's drive and ability, they were off to conquer the world. And they did.

They brought Tango and Milonga to the international stage. They did the Sullivan show regularly for years, Las Vegas, all the show venues.

When Maria was of "legal" age, they got married. They had a love on-stage and off. But after 8 years, the passion was over-heated and starting to destroy the relationship. They got divorced so they could still dance together. Maria's little sister, Cristina Rey, danced with Juan for a couple of years while the scars healed.

Then, for 35 more years, they made history. They danced around the world; ran a company that trained many of today's stars; and ultimately, created and starred in Tango Argentino on Broadway.

Alas, the partnership split again at the end of 1996 - but they did re-unite for the "Tango Argentino 1999" tour.

Juan has said, "I will never have another partner. I would need 4 partners now to do what Maria can do by herself."

Maria Nieves recently received the "artist of the year" award by A.C.E. (the association of entertainment critics) in Buenos Aires. She appeared for eleven months during 2002 with the show "Tanguera" in Teatro Nacional where she had begun her stage career 50 years ago. On January 29, Tanguera opens in Teatro Alcala in Madrid for a three-month run. This is an opportunity to see this great lady of tango on stage.

For more of the story and pictures, see the Copes page.

Juan & Maria

© 2001 Keith Elshaw

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