The Argentine Calesita
The Argentine Calesita. Tango consists, surprisingly so, of an almost dizzying array of ‘steps’ that it quite honestly boggles the mind. Really when you stop and you think about it, it’s just 2 feet, well 4 really, and you can’t even begin to imagine what you could do with 4 feet. The possibilities are nearly endless! Which brings us to Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Calesita.
Calesita is not a word that you hear all that often, and quite frankly even if you look it up to translate it, you’ll more than likely be more than a little confused. In the annals of Tango Vocabulary this is one of those things that quite literally have to ask, “What on God’s green earth is a Calesita ?”.
The Argentine Calesita is a type of turn. One of the 8 Types that Tango Topics talks about. 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado (The Linear Form/The Circular Form). 5.) Argentine Media Luna. 6.) Walking Turns. (El Giro de Caminando). 7.) Colgada Turns & Single Axis Turns. and 8.) The Argentine Calesita.
What is an Argentine Calesita ? The word “Calesita” roughly translates as ‘Carousel’ or in English, a ‘Merry-Go-Round’. Anytime you see a ‘sita’ or ‘cita’ ending on a Spanish word, it means that whatever object is being modified is small, or made smaller, tiny. So this is a small carousel or a small ‘Merry-Go-Round’. The Argentine Calesita is basically a small walking turn! It’s nothing more than a variation on a El Giro De Caminando or The Walking Turn with a ‘twist’, there’s always a twist! So what’s the twist ? Instead of the couple walking in a tiny, tight circle, one partner walks in a tight circle around the other. This is Lead vocabulary as well as Follower vocabulary. Meaning that you shouldn’t necessarily get all persnickety that the Follower alone should do this. Many Leads employ this very useful turn as a way to reposition themselves to do something else. It’s a great navigational tool as well. And, obviously, can be used to Interpret the Music. It’s also not that hard, once you get it through your head that you’re not going to employ the Follower’s Molinete or a Milonguero Turn. The reality of this type of motion for the couple is that unless it’s been led before, the Follower will default to their training. The Lead on the other hand, because this is self-led will have issues in different areas.
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Have you seen Dancing In A Small Space (DIASS) ? If you’re planning to dance at a Tango Marathon, Festival, Encuentro, Buenos Aires, or your local Milonga is a very crowded and you want to know how to dance well in a small crowded space, then this video is the key to that process.
See > Dancing In A Small Space
From A Leading & Following Perspective the Argentine Calesita is really simple for either one of you. This is nothing more than walking really. It’s just that this one of you (the person receiving the Calesita) will stay in the center, while the other (the person walking the Calesita) will walk around the other! While there are several versions of the Calesita, such as a Lead Forward Calesita (in the video), The Lead Back calesita (in the video), The Follower Side Calesita (in the video), and the Lead Molinete Calesita (not in the video) the one that you’re going to lead and follow over and over again, because of its simplicity, is the Follower’s Forward Calesita. This is where the Follower is going to walk forwards around the lead, as shown in the video above. While this is the common form of the Calesita that you’ll both be exposed to, there are the more interesting ones where you’re going to want play with (which is what the video is for). However, before you get to see that stuff (you can subscribe or purchase it), there are some things you may want to be aware of, read that as ‘issues’, that are common to both roles.
1.) Stepping Away. While this should be obvious, for a lot of people, it’s not and they wonder why the calesita fails. This is the primary reason why it will fail. Whichever partner is walking the Calesita, if you step away from your partner, you’re going to create an instability. The further away you step, the more instability you’re going to generate. And to be clear, you’re not the one that’s unstable. It’s the person in the center of the Calesita that becomes unstable because they can’t move! Most especially if it’s the Lead’s Forward or Back Calesita around the Follower!
2.) Stepping Too Close. The other primary issue that happens with the Calesita is stepping too close to the person that’s receiving the Calesita! This is sometimes known as stepping too shallow. In other words, your step is so close to their feet that you’re almost toppling them over.
3.) The ‘Rigid’ Embrace. Still another failing of the Calesita is an embrace where either the Lead, or the Follower, creates a state of rigidity with their arms and hands, and quite literally (if not factually) holds onto (seemingly for dear life), the partner that is receiving or generating the Calesita. That rigidity creates more problems than it’s worth. Ideally we want our embrace, in this case, to be somewhat fluid and very soft, think ‘air’, and then do ‘air’. We’re looking for either ‘air-to-air’ physiological contact, or ‘air-to-skin/fabric’ with our embrace and/or somewhere in between. This is better known as Level 1 and Level 2 of Tango Haptics.
4.) Poor Posture. The Argentine Calesita relies on having ‘good’ posture. Meaning that you’re not tilting towards or away from your partner, or breaking at the waist, or your head is pointing at the floor (watching your partner’s feet…tsk, tsk, tsk). Doing so, creates another instability that you do not want in a Calesita from either a Leading Perspective OR a Following Perspective.
5.) The Unstable Walk. If you’re used to walking on the 5th Metatarsal of your foot (your baby toe, which is actually the 5th Phalanges), you’re going to create yet another instability, thereby creating, and generating an instability in your own walk and really your partner’s stability to maintain the center of the Calesita.
Have you seen Dancing In A Small Space – The Addendum ? This video adds a few things that were missing in the DIASS video and then takes it to a whole other level with a more than a few examples and even more vocabulary to help you expand your close quarter dancing at Marathons, Encuentros, and Buenos Aires!
One Gotcha! There is one particular Calesita, which for a variety of reasons (2 actually) that will be nearly impossible to pull off unless you know a tiny little trick that can create it. The problem child ? The Follower’s Back Step Calesita. This particular Calesita is generally not done due to two Follower default behaviors that occur. So if you’re looking for that in the video, and how to generate one, then you’ve come to the right place. The video talks about and then shows you a method to generating the Follower’s Back Step Calesita!
These are just some of the more common issues that can and do happen with the Argentine Calesita that are common to both roles, as both roles can and do engage in a Calesita.
There are two common components to the Argentine Calesita, and they’re the primary reason why you need a video like this.
a.) The Common Entry points. There are several places that we can enter a Calesita from. The first and more common of them is a simple side step in either direction (to lead left, or to lead right). A Calesita can be generated in either direction. However there are multiple entry points that you’ll want to consider (see the video), that can create a dynamic ‘wow’ moment, and relaxing of the embrace.
b.) The Common Exit points. There are really only 3 common exit points that we want to engage in. While there are a host of options and opportunities for us to start to play with, the more esoteric items such as Sacadas, or any of the Colgada options, ideally we want to stick to the simplest exit points. And there’s a reason for that: Simplicity. Learning the exit points and understanding why they’re insanely important to keeping not only the dance moving but the ronda (the room) moving is not only good floorcraft, it also just makes good sense.
One More Thing. This stuff is really not that hard to envision but there’s one overriding reason why we actually want to add this into our dance, and it has everything to do with heat. Heat ? Yes, bodily heat. Typically the dance can generate a lot of body warmth and as such, things can get overheated quite easily. So engaging the Argentine Calesita tends to release that heat trap temporarily. Ok, that’s not a real reason but it sounds like one, no ? A good reason that we want to engage the Argentine Calesita is purely a musical one. A good Calesita can be used in any number of ways to accentuate the upbeat, the downbeat, dropping a beat, playing with 8th or 16th notes (almost patter like). This is the primary reason why we use them!
Why You Need This! There are many moves, steps, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that they are mostly ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! This ain’t that! This one is one of the more venerable selections of Tango Topics that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos, Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete, Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. We take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch it. You can learn what you need from this and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things.
About The Video. This video is 01h:14m:13s in length in 15 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.
Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:10
Section 2 – Caveats – 00:05:35
Section 3 – Lead Set Up – 00:07:01
Section 4 – Lead Forward Calecita – 00:02:49
Section 5 – Follower’s Forward Calesita – 00:07:40
Section 6 – with Close Embrace – 00:05:23
Section 7 – with Milonguero/Lazy Ochos – 00:03:47
Section 8 – Calesita with 2 Turns – 00:03:42
Section 9 – Close Up – 00:05:09
Section 10 – Errors – 00:11:42
Section 11 – Footwork – 00:03:11
Section 12-Follower Technique – 00:05:15
Section 13-Lead Back Step Calesita – 00:05:54
Section 14 – Follower Back Step Calesita – 00:05:13
Section 15 – Closure – 00:00:42
Related Videos Mentioned In This Article:
The Six Ways of Walking – Download
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