• Maysa Monção

Our last tango

Our Last Tango (German Kral, 2015)      Y

From brothels to high society

It is curious how to look in retrospective into the history of tango. The dance first sprang to life in the brothels of Buenos Aires. The dance itself is an “acting out” of the relationship between the prostitute and her pimp. The sensuous and sexually suggestive moves soon conquered a Catholic country -- still today, 92% of the population in Argentina are nominally Roman Catholic -- and then Broadway. The true story of the Argentinian dancers who made the tango famous all over the world is told in Our Last Tango, out in the cinemas from 22 September.

Maria Nieves Rego first met her partner in dance Juan Carlos Copes when they were teenagers. For her, it was love at first sight. Maria was a poor girl and the milonga and tango balls were just an excuse to meet Juan. For him, he knew he “met her Stradivarius”. Maria wasn’t really interested in dancing, but lo and behold the couple created incredible tango choreographies for 50 years.

Our Last Tango is a mix of documentary and docufiction. Director German Kral talked with the couple and they reveal their history, whilst they visit the sites where they used to dance. Those memory scenes are balanced with vivid recreations of their dances by a dance company. As a background of their personal story, Kral presents us the social habits and roles of men and women in Argentina for the last 50 years. This is the most interesting aspect of the film if you ain’t a tango lover.

Maria soon realised that Juan was a perfect tango partner but a horrible husband. They divorced because he could not be faithful to her. It was difficult for him not to betray her, as he frequented the variety nights and cabaret shows in Buenos Aires. She then repressed her desire as a woman and focused on her career. That eventually led her into loneliness. As a machista society, it is easier for Juan to live a double life than for Maria. He was able to marry again and have kids, though he continued to dance with Maria, but she instead did not move on. She didn’t marry anyone else and eventually when her career was over she felt dislocated.

Our Last Tango is one of the biggest bets of Argentina film production in the UK market, Wim Wenders is the executive producer. To celebrate its UK release, Celluloid Circus and Argentine Film Festival London have partnered with 12 tango schools in London to launch a tango takeover running for two weeks from 22 September. Each cinema ticket for the film is valid for one tango class. Click here for the list of the schools.

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