TIME Argentina

This Ballerina Can Make the Most Disabled Dance

María Fux believes anyone can challenge their limitations

Diana Martínez makes her way down the busy downtown sidewalk with difficulty. She walks slowly, leaning on the crutches she has used all her life after contracting polio at barely nine months old.

Coming off the elevator of an old Parisian-style building in Buenos Aires, she enters the grandiose apartment of Argentine ballet legend María Fux. Diana leaves her crutches leaning against the wall of Fux’s studio, removes the leather and steel brace that allows her to stand upright by supporting her affected right leg, lies down on the floor and prepares to dance.

“Can you dance life? Yes, you can,” says 93-year old María Fux. “As long as you can move, as long you can crawl, but you need a stimulus. I provide that stimulus. They’re waiting for me to give it, and I give.”

Born in 1922, dance therapist Fux has spent the best part of her life giving people like Diana the gift of dance. Before that, a brilliant career in the 1940s and 50s that included being prima ballerina for the Cólon opera house in Buenos Aires had already made her a national celebrity. But in the 1960s Fux turned her attention to helping the physically challenged to move.

In the decades since then, her studio in Buenos Aires has been attended by people who would not previously have been considered able to dance. Blind students, deaf students, teenagers with Down syndrome, persons dealing with psychological stress, all were made to dance by Fux.

It is a work of infinite patience that is replicated today by devoted followers outside Argentina who have opened dance therapy schools to teach the “Fux method,” primarily in Italy, where the method has been followed since the 1990s.

“Her method is being taught in various countries in Europe, especially in Italy where there’s a school in Milan and another in Florence,” says Italian film director Ivan Gergolet, who was in Buenos Aires this week for screenings in Argentina of his feature-length documentary Dancing With Maria.

Dancing With MariaMaría Fux

Gergolet’s 75-minute portrait of Fux and her miraculous work is a beautiful, emotional rollercoaster of a film that last month took the prestigious “Nastri d’Argento” documentary award in Italy. Screened for the first time at the Venice Film Festival last year, where it took another award, it has been playing to packed, tear filled audiences in the film documentary circuit across Europe since.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Fux was preparing to give a class at her spacious second-floor studio in Buenos Aires. Its three wide windows overlook bustling Callao Avenue, just a few blocks from the building of Congress. A mix of classical dancers, Down’s syndrome teenagers and ordinary students are arriving. Diana is already on the floor, stretching in preparation for the class.

“Dance for me was something prohibited until I discovered Fux six years ago,” says Diana, 53. “Thanks to her I’ve been able to recover my femininty. Imagine, having had a rigid body for so long, to discover I could dance, it helped me overcome social prejudices and my own prejudices regarding what I could do.”

Fux strikes a distinctly regal pose as she sits down for the interview. “How do I look?” she asks, laughing. “I am 93 but still giving classes.”

Although she denies she has a method per se, Fux says that testing the limits of the human body is part of it. “I’m interested in limits, my limits and the limits of other people. I give that limit that says, “No, I can’t,” the chance of saying “Yes, I can.” It involves creativity. One and one is not always two, sometimes it is five, sometimes three, sometimes nothing.”

Fux says the elasticity of limits was impressed upon her by her mother, who escaped to Argentina with her 14 siblings before the First World War, fleeing from the anti-Jewish pogroms in Odessa in what is now Ukraine.

Shortly after arriving in Argentina, Fux’s mother caught an infection that required the removal of her kneecap, leaving her with a limp. “I became interested in limits because of my mother, I’ve never seen a woman with as much movement as she had,” Fux says. “She moved, she cooked delicious meals, she gave me and my sisters the chance to say “Yes, I can.” I saw how my mother stretched her limit through movement. I am my mother’s dancing leg.”

It is a life lesson that for over five decades she has imparted to various generations of Argentines, many of whom are crowding the current screenings of Dancing With Maria in Buenos Aires.

“Maybe it’s not so surprising nowadays, but a few decades ago when I attended her studio it was completely shocking and unheard of to have physically and mentally challenged students at a dance class,” said a former student at a screening Sunday night at which she received a standing ovation as the credits rolled.

In one astounding scene in the film, Fux leads a group of blind students through a heart-wrenching dance in her studio. “Blind people need to feel they can move without bumping into anything,” she says in the film. “But we are also blind and deaf sometimes. There’s two ways to see life, the way people think you are and the way you actually are.”

Such is the strength of Fux’s following in Italy that spontaneous flashmobs, in which Fux method students swarmed to dance in the street outside the cinema, occurred in nine cities where the film was screened. In Buenos Aires too, the screenings have been preceded by similar spectacles.

The film was born from the admiration of Gergolet’s wife, the Italian dancer Martina Serban, for Fux. “I met Fux in Italy in 2006. She has a charisma, a power, she transmits love. We are used to the idea that if someone has a limit, you have to help them. But she helps in a different way, by letting the student come up against their own limit and saying ‘I trust you can do it’ to them.”

Convincing Fux to participate in the film was not easy. The ballerina is practically unapproachable, entering the class once it is assembled, leaving immediately after it’s over and seldom interacting outside the lesson. “I often don’t even know their names, but I know who they are,” says Fux.

“We lied to her,” says Gergolet. “We told her we were from an Italian television station and that we wanted to interview her.” Back home in Italy, Gergolet showed the material to a film producer, who became mesmerized with Fux and put his full weight behind the project.

Despite the thousands of tears being shed at the film’s showings, Fux remains somehow detached from it all, continuing to give her weekday classes and weekend seminars in her giant Buenos Aires apartment. At Tuesday’s class, Diana, the polio victim, suddenly starts separating from the floor. In a slow, gyrating movement, she rises on her twisted right leg, stands upright, and dances.

“When I started with Fux I felt very bad because I couldn’t dance on my feet,” says Diana. “But that’s because I was thinking. Now I no longer think about what I can’t do, I just move.”

A legendary figure of the dance world decades before Gergolet and his wife were even born, Fux dismisses questions about her meetings with Maya Plisetskaya at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in the 1950s or her training with Martha Graham in New York in the same decade. (Graham sent Fux back to Argentina after seeing her perfom. “She told me I didn’t need any master, that I already had my masters inside me.”)

Fux’s thoughts are turned instead to the mystery of movement and the testing of limits through dance and music. “Music is like a string,” she says. “Sometimes it breaks, sometimes it continues. That’s all. It’s not a note, C or A. It’s a movement in space that creates drawings. That’s something you can understand, that I can understand, that everyone understands. It’s about becoming a better person. That’s what’s most important.”

TIME Soccer

An Argentinian Media Executive Named in the FIFA Scandal Has Turned Himself In

Argentine linked to FIFA scandal turns himself into Italian police
INTERPOL/HANDOUT—EPA An undated mugshot released on 09 June 2015 by Interpol shows Alejandro Burzaco.

Alejandro Burzaco says he will provide information on the corruption scandal engulfing soccer's apex body

One of the South American businessmen implicated in the ongoing corruption scandal at world soccer’s governing body FIFA surrendered to police in Italy on Tuesday, two weeks after the U.S. issued a warrant for his arrest.

Alejandro Burzaco surrendered to authorities in the northern Italian city of Bolzano, the Wall Street Journal reported. He is the former chairman and chief executive of Argentina’s Torneos SA, a media company that won the rights to broadcast several tournaments including last year’s World Cup in Brazil and this year’s Copa America, which begins in Chile on Thursday.

The company fired Burzaco last week, soon after he was charged with racketeering, fraud and money laundering in an indictment by U.S. federal authorities and named in a “red notice” by Interpol. The 50-year-old was accompanied by three lawyers when he surrendered, and said he is willing to be extradited to the U.S. to provide information on the FIFA scandal.

“Alejandro Burzaco surrendered today so he could expedite his arrival in the U.S. to address the charges head on,” Sean Casey, a lawyer at Kobre & Kim in New York, also representing Burzaco, told the Journal in an emailed statement.

U.S. prosecutors are also seeking two other Argentine executives and a Brazilian executive in connection with the massive corruption scandal, which has implicated several top officials at one of world sport’s richest organizations and resulted in the resignation of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter earlier this month.

[WSJ]

TIME beauty

This Is the Country Where People Are The Happiest With the Way They Look

beauty happiness woman mexico
Getty Images

Mexicans, you're beautiful and you know it

Of all the peoples of the world, Mexicans are the happiest with their appearance.

Some 74% of Mexicans say they are “completely satisfied” or “fairly satisfied”with their appearance, according to a massive study by market research group GfK, which asked more than 27,000 people, aged 15 or over, in 22 countries around the world what they thought of themselves.

Turkey (71%) came in second, with Ukraine and Brazil in joint third place (both 65%). Also scoring highly are Spain (64%) and Germany and Argentina (both 62%), and the U.S. (60%).

But GfK’s wide-reaching survey also found out that many nationalities aren’t happy with their looks at all. The Japanese are the most unhappy, with 38% of Japanese people saying they are “not at all satisfied” or “not too satisfied,” followed by around 20% of British, Russians and South Koreans.

Perhaps breaking a few stereotypes, GfK found that teenagers are only marginally more self-critical than adults, with 16% of 15-19 year-olds being “not too satisfied” with their looks, compared to 13% for 20-59 year olds. Similarly, women were found to be only marginally more critical about themselves than men.

TIME Argentina

Watch This Airplane Just Miss Crashing Into a Speedboat by Mere Inches

They captured the incident on a GoPro as they were speeding across the lake

Three men in Argentina had an unbelievably close shave when a small plane zoomed past their speedboat, descending so close that a crash looked unavoidable.

The men were participating in a fishing tournament and air show in Goya, northwest Argentina, on Sunday and were filming the event from their speedboat when the light plane descended out of nowhere, reports Australian Broadcast Corp. (ABC).

“We were really enjoying ourselves, and when we saw the plane, we got scared,” passenger Mariano Bradanini, 33, told ABC.

Though the men can be heard laughing as the plane buzzes by, they obviously weren’t expecting such a near miss. It’s not clear whether the pilot had lost control or whether it was all part of the air show.

“They did aerobatic shows everyday, so we were scared, but then we realized that he was an experienced pilot,” said Bradanini.

[ABC]

TIME fashion

1940s Fashion Tip: Don’t Leave Home Without a Hat

Or a smartly tailored blazer and a prominent brow

For every photograph printed in LIFE Magazine, countless others never made the cut. A set of 5,000 images might be whittled down to 15 in print, and entire assignments were set aside and never revisited. One such assignment was this series of fashion photos from 1941. Any notes, if they existed, have been lost to time, and all that is known is the location (Buenos Aires) and the subjects (models for Saks). But the fashion statements—eye-catching headpieces, expertly tailored outwear and serious brow power—speak for themselves. If today’s designers want to foster a resurgence of early ‘40s sensibilities, they need look no further than LIFE’s cutting room floor.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Argentina

Secret Nazi Hideout Believed Found in Argentina

Researchers found German coins and a porcelain plate dating back to World War II

Archeologists have discovered ruins in a remote jungle region of Argentina that are believed to be Nazi hideouts intended to act as safe havens if Germany lost World War II.

Inside three run-down buildings in the Teyú Cuaré park, near the border with Paraguay, researchers found five German coins minted during the Nazi regime and a porcelain plate marked “Made in Germany,” the Clarín newspaper reports.

“Apparently, halfway through World War II, the Nazis had a secret project of building shelters for top leaders in the event of defeat — inaccessible sites, in the middle of deserts, in the mountains, on a cliff or in the middle of the jungle like this,” team leader Daniel Schávelzon told Clarín.

In fact, the hideouts would prove unnecessary because after the war then Argentine President Juan Perón allowed thousands of Nazis, and other European fascists, to resettle in the South American nation. Most notorious among them was arguably Adolf Eichmann, a leading architect of the Holocaust, who in 1960 was found in Argentina by an Israeli intelligence group. He was abducted and eventually executed in Israel for his crimes.

[Clarín]

Read next: How a Speech Helped Hitler Take Power

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME russia

5 Disputed Numbers That Explain Geopolitics

Ukraine
Vadim Ghirda—AP Russia-backed separatist fighters stand next to self propelled 152 mm artillery pieces, part of a unit moved away from the front lines, in Yelenovka, near Donetsk, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2015.

From Argentina’s economic woes to Iran’s nuclear timeline, statistics that are up for debate can tell us a lot about geopolitics. 

Every world leader uses data for political purposes. But some take it a step further. Here are five disputed stats where the controversy itself sheds light on a deeper political question.

1. How many Russians are in Ukraine?

Estimates of Russian troops in Ukraine differ dramatically depending on which side of the border you’re standing on. (That is, if you can find the border—Russian-backed separatists continue to take territory in southeast Ukraine). Ukrainian President Poroshenko proclaimed last month that there are more than 9,000 Russian troops and 500 tanks and armored vehicles in his country. But Russia claims it isn’t that many—zero, to be exact. According to a spokesman for Putin, “there are no Russian tanks or army in Ukraine.” Other players split the difference: in August, a separatist leader claimed that 3,000 to 4,000 Russian citizen “volunteers” provided assistance to the rebels.

(Reuters, CNN, LA Times)

2. How quickly could Iran build a nuclear weapon?

When Western leaders emphasize the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, there’s a recurring, essential question: How long would it take for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb? Iran consistently downplays the threat: an Iranian source cited the ‘breakout time’ at a minimum of 18 months. But Washington believes it’s drastically shorter: about 2-3 months. There’s also fierce debate about how long that breakout time should be. In ongoing nuclear negotiations, the Obama administration wants to ensure it would take at least a year. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to eliminate Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons altogether.

(Reuters, Institute for Science and International Security, New York Times)

3. Can China boast that its economy is #1?

Last year, the International Monetary Fund projected that China’s economy was about to overtake the United States’ when measured on a purchasing power basis (a less common way of measuring GDP that takes exchange rates into account). China became the world’s largest trading nation back in 2012. But even China is pushing back against any perception that it’s on top: the state-run news agency Xinhua ran a piece in January titled “China denies being world’s No. 1 economy.” Beijing is careful to stress that it’s still very much a developing country, not yet wealthy enough to take on a lot of global responsibilities. They have a point. Despite relentless growth—last year’s economic output topped $10 trillion, more than five times higher than a decade before—China’s output per person is still nowhere near that of the U.S.

(New York Times, Bloomberg, Xinhua, Economist)

4. Just how valuable for Americans would the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) be?

One of President Obama’s biggest foreign policy priorities before he leaves office is to ink the TPP, a trade agreement that includes a dozen countries that collectively account for 40% of world trade and roughly a third of global GDP. The administration is quick to point out the estimated economic benefits. According to John Kerry, “TPP could provide $77 billion a year in real income and support 650,000 new jobs in the U.S. alone.” But not everyone buys that jobs claim. The White House’s statistics come from a 2012 book by the Peterson Institute that didn’t provide a precise jobs estimate. The book’s author said he avoided doing so because, “like most trade economists, we don’t believe that trade agreements change the labor force in the long run.”

(Congressional Research Service, Washington Post)

5. How is Argentina’s economy doing?

Argentina’s economic troubles are common knowledge. So is the government’s tendency to cast the numbers in a rosier light. The government claimed 30% growth in GDP from 2007 to 2012 (5.3% annual average rate), but a study last year claimed that GDP only grew half that much and the size of the economy was at least 12% smaller than official government estimates. Then there’s the issue of inflation. The government estimates 21% inflation for this year—but some private economists expect a rate of nearly 40%. Furthermore, the government’s official exchange rate doesn’t reflect reality: one U.S. dollar is officially worth about 8.7 pesos, yet the informal rate is as high as 13.

(World Economics Journal, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BNamericas, Bloomberg)

TIME Argentina

The Bomb Cover-Up Case Against Argentina’s President Has Been Dismissed

In this Feb. 11, 2015 file photo, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez speaks during an event announcing new government projects at the government palace Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Rodrigo Abd—AP In this Feb. 11, 2015 file photo, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez speaks during an event announcing new government projects at the government palace Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ruling comes after the lead prosecutor died in suspicious circumstances last month

An Argentine judge dismissed a controversial case on Thursday against the country’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, citing a lack of evidence.

Kirchner and her foreign minister Héctor Timerman were accused of covering up the alleged involvement of Iranian officials in a bomb attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, reports the New York Times.

The criminal case was brought against the duo and other officials by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously last month.

Judge Daniel Rafecas said the case filed by Nisman did not “minimally hold up” and said there was not enough evidence to launch a court investigation.

Nisman’s body was found in his apartment on Jan. 18, with a gunshot wound to the head. He was due to testify against Kirchner the following day in Congress.

The circumstances surrounding his death have not been established.

Both Kirchner and Timerman have denied they had any hand in shielding the Iranians from responsibility in the attack.

Also on Thursday, Argentine legislators approved a bill scrapping the country’s existing intelligence agency. In its place, a new federal investigative agency will be established.

[NYT]

TIME conflict

What Actually Happened in the Falklands, With or Without Bill O’Reilly

Apr. 19, 1982, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: TODD SCHORR The Apr. 19, 1982, cover of TIME, featuring the war in the Falkland Islands

The conflict between Britain and Argentina took the world by surprise

After more than three decades out of the spotlight, the Falkland Islands are back in the news, this time because of controversy over a claim that Bill O’Reilly has made misleading statements about his time covering the conflict that took place there in 1982.

O’Reilly says that he has always been honest about the fact that his reporting on the war was from Buenos Aires, not the islands themselves—as TIME reported back then, only 27 British reporters were able to get there—but Mother Jones magazine contends that his statement that he reported from active war zones suggests otherwise. The controversy continued Tuesday as O’Reilly further insisted that he never misled anyone.

But what exactly did happen in the Falklands?

In 1982, the archipelago had long been home to little else besides shepherds, sheep, 10 million penguins and a history of diplomatic disputes.

The islands had first been seen by British eyes in the 16th century, were claimed by the U.K. in the 17th century, went to Spain in the 18th century and back to Britain in 1833. Meanwhile, Argentina, which became independent from Spain during the period of Spanish control of the Falklands, claimed the right to the land—they had gained the Malvinas, their name for the islands, when Spain left, they argued—even over the objections of many who actually lived on the Islands. Argentina’s military ruler, General Galtieri, hoped to boost his own popularity by scoring a win in the islands. The locals, largely descended from Brits, did not support leaving the shelter of the British crown (which held them as a dependency, not an independent member of the commonwealth) for then-unstable but nearby rule.

In early April of 1982, the Falklands (and, by extension, the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands) were defended by a few dozen British marines already on the islands when thousands of Argentine troops suddenly swept in. In fighting that lasted mere hours, the South American nation seized the territories from the U.K., which responded by breaking off diplomatic relations and, via the U.N., demanding that Argentina withdraw. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government promised that, were the request denied, the islands would be retaken by force. And, when the British navy arrived in the area—to enforce a blockade and evacuate the invaders—that result began to seem more and more likely.

Even as war loomed, TIME observed that the spectacle was “out of nowhere, it seemed, or out of another century.” One of the world’s major powers, no longer famous for its empire, and a country on another continent, fighting a sudden territorial war over a couple of islands? Just plain weird. Nonetheless, the pride of two nations was on the line, and citizens on both sides supported action.

President Ronald Reagan was unable to mediate a diplomatic solution and, at the end of the month, thousands of Argentine troops prepared for a confrontation. Rather than landing in the Falklands directly, the British forces landed on South Georgia Island, one of the Falklands’ dependencies, to the east of the main archipelago. South Georgia was quickly captured, bringing the two sides within striking distance.

By May, Britain’s Defense Secretary announced that the nation’s aircraft had taken action “to enforce the total exclusion zone and to deny the Argentines use of the airport at Port Stanley,” the Falklands capital. Military targets in the Falklands were bombed and other nations, including the U.S., ended their neutrality in the conflict. (The U.S. sided with England; the Soviets would eventually speak up for Argentina.) Fighting increased, as did patriotic support on both home fronts, even as the costs began to climb.

As the second month of fighting drew to an end, there was nothing quaint about it. As TIME reported:

Meanwhile, preparations for an all-out war over the Falklands continued. To the skirl of bagpipes, some 3,500 Scottish, Welsh and Gurkha troops last week boarded the hastily requisitioned Queen Elizabeth 2 to begin a ten-day journey to the South Atlantic. They were intended to join some 4,000 other British soldiers in the potential invasion force aboard the 20-ship battle squadron surrounding the islands. British warships kept up a harassing bombardment of the Falklands coastline, while Sea Harrier jets sank an Argentine trawler, possibly a spy ship, that was discovered deep within the blockade zone. Argentine warplanes flew a retaliatory sortie against the blockading fleet; London said that three of the aircraft were downed, and the Argentines damaged one British frigate in the action.

Then the British added a daring new twist to their tactics. Late Friday night, a commando force slipped ashore on Pebble Island, a slice of land practically touching West Falkland Island. Supported by naval gunfire, the raiders, who were probably ferried ashore in helicopters, attacked an airstrip and Argentine military outpost, blowing up a large ammunition dump and destroying eleven aircraft. The action was a sustained one; it was only after dawn that the commando force left the island, suffering only two minor casualties. London stressed that the operation was a “raid, not an invasion,” but the assault marked the first time that British troops had set foot on the Falklands since their departure after the Argentine invasion on April 2.

The conflict finally ended in June, after a full-on fight for Port Stanley. The death tolls had reached about 250 British troops and nearly 700 Argentine. The Argentine troops were driven from the islands, and a few days later General Galtieri was replaced, even as his country continued to assert their claim to the Falklands. In England, Thatcher’s popularity soared.

And on the islands themselves, life had changed too: the mellow home of shepherds had become a military stronghold. The military investment improved the local economy and modernized the lifestyle there but did not fully resolve the conflict. Argentina still hopes to regain the territory. A 2013 vote found that 1,513 residents wanted to remain under U.K. control. Only three people voted to leave.

Read TIME’s full coverage of the beginning of the conflict, here in the TIME Vault: Gunboats in the South Atlantic

TIME Soccer

Soccer Team Takes Viagra Before a Match, Loses Anyway

San Jose v River Plate - Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2015
Javier Mamani/STR—LatinContent/Getty Images Rodrigo Mora of River (L) and Arnaldo Vera of San Jose (R) run for the ball during a match between San Jose and River Plate as part of group stage Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2015 at Jesus Bermudez Stadium on February 19, 2015 in Oruro, Bolivia.

They met stiff resistance

An Argentine soccer team tried to get ahead by taking Viagra for a match at high altitude. Unfortunately, they lost 2-0 anyway.

Club Atletico River Plate decided to take a cocktail of Sildenafil (commercially known as Viagra), caffeine and aspirin in advance of a match in Bolivia, the Washington Post reports. Research has shown that the anti-impotence drug helps boost circulation and deliver more oxygen to the muscles, allowing athletes to perform better at high altitudes.

River Plate hails from Buenos Aires, where the elevation (about 82 feet) is fairly low, while their match against San Jose de Oruro in Bolivia took place at 12,400 feet. Still, even Viagra was not enough to help them, and they lost their first group game of the Copa Libertadores de America.

“The players finished very tired and angry, because they know they played a great match,” coach Marcello Gallardo said, according to the club’s website. “[The team’s center back] Pezzella is still sore.”

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