Wednesday, October 11, 2006



The women of tango inspire - over and over.

How hard must it be to lose a partner and have to find a new way?

Seven years ago, Juan Carlos Copes dissolved his partnership with Maria Nieves. It came to her as a shock after 45 years. She felt she had a right to be angry; when Carlos Saura begged her repeatedly to appear with Copes in his film "Tango," (which he proposed as a tribute to them) she declined. A sad thing to have happened.

Nieves Nieves reflects (1998)

Of course, they later were re-united for the latest go-'round of Tango Argentino and that was something.

In between times, Maria Nieves had discovered her own place - she was invited to headline around the world and felt the love of the public. She discovered to her surprise how much she enjoyed teaching. One guesses some of her youth was returned to her. She enjoyed a new life - made sweeter by the old accomplishments.

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.

In 2000, another Maria was faced with a radically different future than she envisioned; Maria Cieri's beloved Rodolfo was taken from her suddenly.

I am not qualified to write about the Cieris' place in the tango galaxy (I have only seen them together on Daniel Trenner's video). I have had the opinion expressed to me that the Cieris have had an influence on many teachers and performers.

rodolfo y maria Maria y Rodolfo Cieri

Petit, gracious, humble and just a wonderful dancer, Maria Cieri has for the first time since her bereavement ventured into the tango world by coming to Montreal for 6 weeks to teach. (Footnote: Maria and Rodolfo were to appear for the first time in Montreal for a Festival two days after he was taken finally to hospital).

Tango at its best being about relationships, Maria brings home to you the reality of finding yourself alone after a life of family (first, and for a long time in their case) and work, as tango professionals.

Maria Cieri, introduced, spoke of how hard it has been to be without Rodolfo; how she didn't know how to look at life (let alone tango) without him. She speaks through a warming smile. She makes a little speech in the way of her culture. She beams back at the applause, and again takes her seat.

You know you are seeing tango personified ... and you are attracted to it.

Last night, at a an intimate milonga run by Antonio, Maria (saying goodbye) sang tango, which she loves to do more than ever.

The first night Maria arrived, a woman visiting from California was sitting with me. But her mind wasn't with me. She couldn't take her eyes off Maria - who was just dancing with a local person. Women watching Maria tend to become quiet, I've noticed.

When trying to describe her to a friend, I called her "The Queen of Slow." I mean that in the most laudable sense. She is inside social tango; it is not complicated where she is. It is just elegant, clean, inspired. And so calm. She laughed when I told her that.

Maria seemed to enjoy dancing with all the men who asked her. She gathers no air of intimidation around her. Speaking for myself, but also intuiting what I saw from others, dancing with Maria Cieri is an experience to cherish.

Maria and Rodolfo had something very special. Unique.

Now she is without him ... but she is open to the tango world. She has much to give. Invitations ought to come for her to travel more.

(Maria endeared herself even more here by speaking extemporaneously en français).

HERNAN Y MARIANA Mariana y Hernán

By her side in Montreal has been the almost magical presence of Mariana Dragone.

Not 30 for some time yet, Mariana, partner of El Indio in Buenos Aires, was also partner to Hernán Obispo (passing now 5 months lamented).

Mariana had been here twice with Hernán (of his four extended visits).

Now here she is in the midst of Hernán's many, many friends and with Maria Cieri.

A grand dame (with no pretensions) and a beauty of the future (facing reality as well).

Gentlemen, if you dance tango, you will so enjoy dancing with Mariana. She'll be with you whatever you do. And she will shine her rays on you.

How unusual it was to have two women, with their recent backgrounds, come together to teach for a few weeks. (This was under the auspices of Santiago Jiménez, owner of L'Académie de tango). And how utterly sweet.

They graced all of the milongas with their presence. They taught people who loved them for what they gave.

Making we want to say to them, but even to all women of tango, you are adored.

Keith Elshaw

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