Juan Carlos Copes, Who Brought Tango to Broadway, Dies at 89

Juan Carlos Copes, Who Brought Tango to Broadway, Dies at 89

Juan Carlos Copes, Who Introduced Tango to Broadway, Dies at 89

This obituary is a part of a sequence about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Examine others right here.

Tango was initially a social dance, carried out in neighborhood gatherings and dance halls. However Juan Carlos Copes turned it into dance for the stage, with complicated, extremely polished choreography that might wow an viewers over the course of a whole night.

Mr. Copes moved throughout the dance flooring for seven many years. For a lot of that point he danced with one accomplice — additionally, for a interval, his spouse — María Nieves Rego. They got here to outline a brand new tango model, dubbed the “estilo Copes-Nieves.”

“I noticed two types being danced,” Mr. Copes mentioned in a 2007 interview with the tango journal “La Milonga Argentina,” “One with a lot of steps, and the opposite easy and stylish. My innovation was to mix the 2 into one.”

Mr. Copes died on Jan. 15 at a clinic within the suburbs of Buenos Aires. He was 89. The trigger was issues of Covid-19, his daughter Johana Copes mentioned.

Mr. Copes and Ms. Nieves could have had their greatest impression performing within the present “Tango Argentino,” which had its premier in Paris in 1983 and have become a global juggernaut, touring Europe and Asia earlier than coming to Broadway in 1985, the place it was nominated for a number of Tonys. The present, once more starring the pair, returned to Broadway in 1999, when it was nominated for greatest revival.

“Tango Argentino” led to a worldwide resurgence of the tango, which had fallen out of favor even in Argentina, changed by a rising tied of principally American pop music. Tango golf equipment opened all around the world.

“The truth that we tango performers of at the moment actually have a occupation is because of Copes,” the New-York primarily based dancer Leonardo Sardella, who has usually carried out with Johana Copes, mentioned in an interview.

Mr. Copes remained within the highlight, dancing in, and choreographing, dozens of tango reveals by way of the Nineteen Eighties and ‘90s. In 1998, he starred within the Spanish director Carlos Saura’s dance movie “Tango,” alongside the Argentine ballet dancer Julio Bocca, to whom he had taught the tango. (He additionally taught it to Liza Minnelli.)

Mr. Copes was born on Could 31, 1931, in Mataderos, an outlying neighborhood of Buenos Aires, to Carlo Copes, a bus driver, and María Magdalena Berti, a homemaker, and grew up in Villa Pueyrredón, one other neighborhood on the town’s outskirts. His maternal grandfather, Juan Berti, was a pianist who specialised in tango.

As a teen, he studied to change into an electrician. However he additionally started frequenting tango evenings at social golf equipment, the place he met Ms. Nieves.

In 1951, the pair entered a big dance competitors on the Luna Park stadium the place they took the highest prize amongst 300 {couples}. This led to appearances at golf equipment and cabarets after which, in 1955, to their first tango present at Teatro El Nacional.

Mr. Copes and Ms. Nieves went on tour 4 years later with the composer Astor Piazzolla. The itinerary included america, the place they landed the primary of a number of spots on the Ed Sullivan Present in 1962. Footage of that first efficiency reveals the superfast footwork, sharp kicks and streamlined model that had made them so in style.

They married in Las Vegas in 1964. The wedding resulted in 1973 however they continued dancing collectively till 1997, regardless of having come to dislike one another intensely.

“We’d swear at one another as we went onstage and proceed as we left the stage. However in between there was the actual Copes-Nieves,” Mr. Copes mentioned within the 2007 interview.

After divorce turned authorized in Argentina, he married Myriam Albuernez in 1988.

Alongside together with his daughter Johana, who turned his principal accomplice in recent times, he’s survived by Ms. Albuernez; one other daughter, Geraldine; and 5 granddaughters.

“He taught me easy methods to breathe tango,” Johana Copes mentioned. “There was a delicacy and purity to his dancing that was troublesome to match. I perceive now why he at all times needed to organize, to rehearse, and to bounce. I perceive that want.”

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