Mimi Santapa

Mimi Santapa is one of Buenos Aires most respected and beloved teachers. She is widely known for her devotion to posture and footwork. At some point most professionals in Buenos Aires have studied with Mimi. Mimi takes pride in teaching beginners as well as professionals. Most of us have attended workshops with Argentine teachers. Many of these are traveling performers who made their names with shows like "Forever Tango."

Others come to the U.S. because they can't make a living teaching tango in their own country. Unless we go to Argentina, and sometimes even if we do, we don't get a chance to study with the small number of locally famous teachers who have never had to leave home to make a living teaching tango. I am speaking of the ones who have always had more work than they could handle right there in Buenos Aires. Mimi Santapa is one of these.

"In the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires, if a woman dances with another woman, she will be asked to stop. If she persists, she will be asked to leave. Unless she happens to be Mimi Santapa.

Usually Mimi dances with men, but when she takes to the floor with a woman, the milongueros not only let her dance, they watch closely to see how she does it, so great is her reputation as a dancer and teacher of dancers.

Mimi's father was known as El Marioneta (the Marionette), and he performed and taught during Tango's Golden Age, at a time when most dancers learned their craft on the dance floor, not in a classroom.

El Marioneta helped to set the standards for clean technique, and he influenced many of the teachers and performers who came after him, including his daughter Mimi. Older milongueros still remember him, and Mimi herself will not take credit for what she teaches, saying simply, "Estas son cosas de mi Padre"--these are my father's things."