Maria Nieves Rego

September 6, 1934 —

Tango Congress 1995

Maria began dancing at the age of 12. Her family was poor, so she had no formal dance training–she learned by watching and dancing in Club Atlanta. She had no idea that tango would become a career. Maria performed in New York City in 1962 in “New Faces”, but tangomania really began with Tango Argentino on Broadway for two years.
I met Maria for the first time when she arrived in Chicago to teach at the First International Tango Congress at Northwestern University in June 1995. It was an honor for me to transport her to and from her hotel for classes. I remember one day having lunch with her when Juan Carlos Copes brought her a stuffed animal with the NU logo. Their performance to “Danzarin,” which they had danced for years in Tango Argentino, brought tears to my eyes. The danced together for 40 years until 1996.
Maria said in an interview, “Nobody is the owner of the truth in tango. I always tell the students when I give a lesson: there’s no better teacher than the milonga. Wear out your shoes, get kicked and have your feet stepped on, and do the same yourself.”
La Tanguera opened in 2004 in Buenos Aires with Maria Nieves in the acting role of a madam. She invited me for a closed performance at Teatro La Nacional, and it was obvious how much the audience loved her by the round of applause they gave her.   On April 28, 2008, Maria was honored by the city of Buenos Aires as an Illustrious Citizen during a ceremony in City Hall.
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