The calesita … and variations


Back into group classes after my illness-enforced absence, and the theme was the calesita. A movement in which the follower pivots on one foot in the centre while the leader walks backwards around her.

In the beginner’s class, we did a sidestep entry, the calesita itself – and then the idea was for the leader to stop, but not stop the follower’s pivot. If all went to plan, her momentum would see her continue to pivot for about another 1/4 of a turn, by which time she should be facing the leader once more …

Things didn’t always go to plan, but they mostly did toward the end of the class. The trick is getting enough momentum into the movement. When I was leading it at a decent pace, and my follower was pivoting in her axis, then the slotting back together thing worked.

The calesita does feel like it’s quite a flexible tool for expressing the music, because you can do it at different speeds, and exit at any point. I definitely need more practice – which I’ll get tomorrow – and I do have a question-mark over how clear it will be to a follower in a milonga that I’m not immediately leading a pivot but instead sliding around her in readiness for a calesita, but I’m giving this one a tentative ‘so far, so good.’ At least, I was until the improver’s class …

The improver’s class

There’s the usual benefit: followers are more experienced and much easier to dance with. And the usual challenge: the steps are often complicated. The improver’s class introduced two different exits …

In the first, the idea was to catch the moment when you stop and your follower’s momentum sees her still continuing to pivot and, at just this point:

  • pivot to the left so that the follower gets a spring action instead of just a stop
  • pivot to the right to lead a kind of pivot rebound into a planeo[1]
  • lead a parada
  • rotate back to centre to complete the movement

[1] I’m not sure how the follower knows you’re leading a planeo, but I had enough to focus on with the leader role, so definitely didn’t have any spare capacity to worry about the follower’s part!

A planeo is where the follower (in this case) sweeps her foot around behind her in rather a grand-looking fashion. A parada is where the follower steps over the leader’s leg.

I didn’t feel like I was leading the spring-action part of it well most of the time, but did manage a few examples that worked. Maybe by the end of tomorrow’s lesson I’ll have a basic version of it.

The second exit was directly into a cross walk, with a cross, into a parada. That one sounds simpler but felt more complicated. I attempted it exactly once, and have no immediate plans to repeat the experience.


That aside, it was a reasonably good couple of classes and practica. My walk felt good (and got a “Very good” and thumbs-up from Federico). In the practica, I managed to include outside walk, ochos, giros and calesitas. I’m getting better at navigating crowded spaces – and navigation in practicas is even more challenging than milongas, as it’s less like a ronda and more like Brownian motion.

I feel like I’m back in the groove after my illness-enforced absence, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s class. My current plan is to do the improver’s class followed by some dancing in the milonga, but we’ll see …

(We’ll gloss over the end of the evening. Someone managed to spill a cup of tea over the floor, which then soaked the bottom of my coat, which was hung over a chair but partly resting on the floor. I noticed that outside in the courtyard, when my tea-soaked coat also soaked my trousers. In order to take off my coat, I had to take off my backpack, and put down what I was carrying, which was my phone. No prizes for guessing what got left behind. By the time I realised that, and returned, the gate to the courtyard was locked. I was able to ping my phone from my watch, to verify it was still there, and to put it into Lost mode, which will display a message with Steph’s phone number. She’ll call them when they open, and hopefully I’ll retrieve it tomorrow.)

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