Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes met as teenagers in an Argentine milango, or tango dance hall. For the next 50 years, they performed as a dance couple — internationally renowned as masters of the tango. They also maintained a romantic, if rocky, relationship, until a personal and professional split late in life. German Kral’s documentary profile lets the two — now in their 80s — recount their life stories, using the conceit of young tango dancers preparing a tribute production about the couple. (These younger performers also “act out” scenes from the couple’s past through stylized dance routines.)
Of the two, Copes is more guarded in his recollections, and his history reflects his more privileged status in the male-dominated culture. For Rego, the past is infinitely more painful, marked with betrayals and regrets, but she remains feisty in spite of her trials, and even pragmatic: Tango may be the dance of love, but she makes a strong argument for the creative energy of hate. The film is an intimate look at a seemingly intimate dance, an illusion maintained through the hard work of its talented practioners.