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Rest in Peace, Maestro Extraordinaire


Honoring Pampa Cortés with your support

As many of you know, Pampa Cortes had cancer. It was a long battle and a tough one but he fought with grace, dignity, and fortitude. He passed peacefully surrounded by his loved ones early in the morning of Sunday, April 27, 2014.

Many have asked how they can honor Pampa's memory. If you wish to donate to a special fund to help with remaining expenses, please call Gigi Jensen at (510) 326-6415  or email her at info@tangoandmore.org.

About this special man:

Narciso del Carmen Cortés, known as “El Pampa”, achieved an impressive career. Even so, a sandwich with a soda was the first pay that he received by entertaining with his tapping for the locals in a local bar near his home. Orphaned, and with poverty clinging to him, one day an aunt took him to Buenos Aires and there, in that far away city, began to dance as a professional. The spirit within him put him on the rolls of the most renowned folkloric companies in Argentina.

“I went along learning from the greatest teachers”, he said. But the first, the most unforgettable, was Mario Machaco. Over time, each time he put on a pair of boots in order to dance, he remembered what he had learned from him. And as money was always tight, he started to make his own boots in order to go on stage.

He was the youngest in all the companies in which he danced, and became the principal dancer in the company of Celia y Jorge Lana. At the beginning of the 1970s, Juan Carlos Copes, who at that time was the big name in tango, arrived one night to Caño 14, one of the most famous places to hear and see tango. There he discovered him. From that time on, Pampa Cortés was a member of his company and ultimately became the Assistant Choreographer.

He was nourished by the knowledge of Santiago Ayala "El Chúcaro" y de Norma Viola, founders of an innovative folklore that was a milestone in the history of Argentine dance. After he entered the company of Celia Queirós, then he founded his own company:  Ballet Pampa. He continued giving to new generations of dancers by forming other companies in San Francisco, California: Las Estrellas, Ballet Pampa Argentina; taking them to the most important ethnic dance festival in the United States.

“My school was life. I had to leave off studying in third grade because I didn’t have even a pair of shows. And my first toys were given to me by Eva Perón”, he recalls.

Enrique Cadícamo, one his mentors and friends, gave him the hat of Carlos Gardel, his knowledge, and long hours of cafes and wine where they drank in life without end. With Pampa went a part of tango’s history. His nights of folkore and tango in La Ventana, El Viejo Almacén, Taconeando, La Carreta, y La Casa de Carlos Gardel. With him also went memories, moments, shared memories on stage with the greats of tango: Alfredo De Angelis, Horacio Salgán, Libertad Lamarque, Roberto Rufino, Mariano Mores, Los Solistas de D'Arienzo, Carlos Acuña, Roberto Goyeneche, Nely Omar, Sexteto Mayor, Sexteto Canyengue and so many others that discovered his talent, and those Santiagenian jokes that only Pampa knew how to tell.

Cortés traveled all over the world performing and teaching: Europe, Japan, South America, Canada, and, of course, the United States. He went on numerous stages inspiring people with his masculine and elegant dance. He shared his mastery of Argentine tango and also of his love for folkloric dance. He was birthed in the cradle of the chacarera y never abandoned his country roots.

The first time that he came to the Unite States was as the choreographer for the show “Tango Revue”, that began its tour in Miami, Florida. And in 1994, with the blessing of Cadícamo, he returned with "Forever Tango", directed by Luis Bravo. By the end of 1996, he stayed. A pioneer of tango in San Francisco, this master of masters, in love with love and the women he always loved.

“Tango is the most beautiful [thing] that I have in this work that I love so much. And when they say maestro, I feel that I’m simply an aficionado that respects what he does. Every day I dance more than 3 or 4 hours and I love to go to a milonga looking elegant, always elegant”, he repeated, and kept repeating, along with the spirit that, this time, took him on a new tour.

- Maritza Gueler, Danza Hoy

Pampa Cortés:  We will miss you greatly. 

To see Pampa's complete bio, click here