Molinetes

Molinetes can be a deceptively difficult move in Tango. It helps to remember, though, that the basic goal is to make a box.

Breaking it Down: Exercise

To start, practice the molinete in two halves:

  • Side step & Forward step
  • Side step & Back step

Repeat each half as many times as possible to become comfortable with the move:

  • Side; forward; side; forward; side; forward
  • Side; back; side; back; side; back

Try changing up the amount of rotation, the size of the step, and the timing of each step (really slow, really fast).

Breaking the molinetes down this way will teach you how to lead the amount of rotation and the size of the step; it will make you more comfortable with the pieces of this move, which makes the move itself easier to do as a whole.

If you ever find yourself struggling with molinetes, it’s a good idea to go back to this simple exercise.

Complete Move

As you are more comfortable with the pieces, try stringing your steps together:

  • Side step
  • Forward step
  • Side step
  • Back step

Keep in mind that you can start a molinete on any of the steps above, in any direction; in class, we tend to learn leading the follow in a clockwise direction; however, you can also lead this move in a counter-clockwise direction. You can start a molinete on a back ocho (which is the same foot & direction as a back step) or a forward ocho (which is the same foot & direction as a forward step).

Exiting

As they dance, leads should try to keep in mind what foot the follow is on at all times. In molinetes, it is usually easiest to exit when the follow’s left foot is free.

Tips

Leads

  • Leads should remember that they are initiating each step and rotation; as such, leads can take things slowly and deliberately
  • To lead rotation, the lead should move his chest so that it is parallel to the direction he would like to rotate the follow. While it is possible to “strong arm” the follow to rotate in the correct direction, it can be more difficult and uncomfortable. As such, leads should carefully use their chest & torso to direct the follow
  • As Leads do this move, they should stay mostly stationary & let the follow do the majority of traveling. This creates a great contrast in the lead and follow, which leads to beautiful aesthetics in dancing. As such, the lead’s steps should be small, and they should mostly move to compensate for the follow so she can dance comfortably

Follows

  • Follows should remember that the lead can change the pattern if he desires; as such, follows should be patient and wait for the lead
  • To follow rotation, the follow should always aim to have her chest parallel to the lead’s. While the lead should initiate the rotation (when, how much, etc.), the follow is responsible for helping her body get to the right place. Otherwise, the lead would have to be more controlling & forceful to make the rotation happen, which can be uncomfortable
  • It is exceptionally important to collect as follows practice molinetes. Allowing her feet to swing wide will throw both the follow and the lead off balance.

Remember: This is a recognizable pattern, so it can be easy for leads & follows alike to skip dancing together on this move. Many follows will take it upon themselves to complete the pattern; in turn, the leads will never lead anything different, and they will allow the follow to finish as she wants. The point of partnered dancing is to do it together, and going on “autopilot” is never as satisfying as really leading and following.

Check out the beautiful molinetes just after :40 and then again around 1:00!

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