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Our Last Tango – German Kral



Love doesn’t make the world go round: desire does. Love is a state of being; desire a life force that sustains it. Transcending both is passion: love and desire conjoined to create a power that can both enhance and even threaten life itself.

The extraordinary Maria Nieves Rego is passion incarnate; the heart and soul at the core of this powerful, affecting film. Self taught, this complex wilful woman, driven by a life-long, single-minded passion, still burning brightly at 83, became perhaps the greatest Tango-dancer there has ever been. Her undying passion for this dance has sustained her in love and through much loss and heartache beyond.

The Argentine Tango – part ritual, part theatre, through the art of dance represents all the passionate possibilities and contradictions of the relation of men and women; each separated by a fierce gender independence yet drawn to one another by the irresistible magnetic attraction of opposites in their sexuality. If perhaps the more sinuous Rumba is the dance of love, the Tango, especially the Argentine Tango has no rival as the dance of passion: as much a representation of conflict and confrontation as of a hard won union from a battle fought to an exhausted but honourable and fragile peace.

Nothing so banal as a mere dance could fire and sustain a Maria Nieves. Her partnership with Juan Carlos Copes raised their artistic union to a level of expression beyond each as an individual. Partner, lover, spouse and serially betrayed wife, even Maria’s sense of loss in a childless life was transcended by her ferocious independence and passion for her dance.

The tempestuous volatile relationship between Maria and Juan Carlos Copes perfectly emulated the dramatic arc of the dance that brought them fame and world-wide artistic eminence. Love and hate; conflict and union, trust and betrayal, honour and shame: Maria’s eloquent testimony to camera reveals it all: leaving one with an overwhelming sense that such talent and passionate dedication is as much curse as blessing.

Using archive footage of breathtaking performances in their prime and recreating their life in dance through current youthful dancers, director German Kral creates a powerful sense of engagement in an extraordinary life.

Without personal regret but advising today’s women dancers not to delay motherhood lest it eludes them: this challenging, passionate, wilful, feisty woman relishes her sense of hard-won independence and embraces without complaint the solitariness, perhaps loneliness this entails, as she disappears into the Buenos Aires night, a lone poignant figure in the back of a taxi. Whatever else, this moving film leaves us with a sense of a life lived to the full and which in artistic terms at least, transcended even the powerful passionate woman who lived it.


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