Molinete is an Argentine Tango move, where the follower turns around the leader, like a windmill. The term molinete is Spanish for windmill. Other words for molinete are giro and lady's turn.
The molinete can be considered a sequence of alternating forward and backward ochos by the follower around the leader. Another way to think of a molinete is to imagine a grapevine done in place.
Steps for Basic Molinete
Below are basic steps for transition to a molinete and out of it.
A side step may be used to get the follower onto the right foot. To start a molinete to the right of the leader, the follower has to have her right leg free for a step. to start a molinete to the left of the leader, the follower has to have the left leg available to step.
The follower steps across the body of the leader with the free foot from the previous step. The follower can be lead to either step forward or backward. The leaders step here can be anything that works with the step or no step at all. The leader must keep facing the follower.
Once the follower arrives, she pivots and does a side step continuing in the direction of the turn. The follower pivots again to prepare for a forward or backward step across the leader. Typically, a leader will lead the follower to alternate between forward and backward steps. However, a leader has free choice to interpret the dance as fit.
The step-forward-side-pivot-backward-pivot can be repeated as often as desired. Although for stylistic reasons, it is rarely done very long. The four steps are supposed to form the four corners of a square around the leader.
Note: It is important that the torsos turn so that the couple is always facing each other.
Possible Leader Steps
The leader has a free choice in his foot work to accompany the steps of the follower.
The leader can make no steps at all and let himself be turned in place by the follower.
The leader may put one foot behind the other foot and gradually turn himself in place to follow the followers movement.
A common leader step is to step ahead of the follower: When the follower steps forward, step behind and into the direction of the dance. Then mirror her sidestep.
The leader can also step forward into the place that the follower is stepping from. This tends to give the turn more momentum and requires the torsos to be turned more.
The molinete is also excellent for leader and follower scadas. This is called molinete con sacadas.
As most leading signals in Argentine Tango, the torso leads the follower to do the molinete. For the follower to realize the pivot, the leader's torso has to turn. To initiate her to step forward, the leaders torso has to move backwards. This can be tricky and require considerable disassociation, when the leader is going to do a forward step.
Differentiation a forward and backward step in the molinete can be a subtle difference. For both steps, the leaders torso has to keep facing her and the direction of her movement is the same. To suggest a forward step, the leader has to move backwards with a little more impetus. To suggest a backwards step, he has to energetically push a little into the shoulder of her free foot. Some leaders may not be sensitive to the difference in lead as they are dancing by the code of alternating forward and backward steps in between side steps.
Many teachers will introduce the molinete to students by putting four pieces of colored tape on the floor. The colored tape forms a square with the sides being the length of a step. At first students will do a box step without turning on the tape markings: forward - left - back - right and repeat. After these steps are clear, the same steps are done while pivoting and facing the center of the square at all times. These are the follower's steps.
Homer and Cristina - soltadas and the anti-molinete
The molinete translates from the Spanish to windlass or windmill. I've also heard is called carousel, the code of the turn, giro, and 'the lady's turn.' Both leaders and follows can perform the molinete, and it is the follower who performs the molinete most frequently. It is a piece of vocabulary that smiply needs to be memorized by followers and leaders. Followers because they do it so often and leaders because there are so many other elements which use the molinete as an entrance.
An example of a beautiful couple dancing the molinete and using it in a variety of ways is shown in the YouTube video of Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Ermocida dancing to "Naranjo En Flor". A series molinetes starts at about 0:59. Lorena does beautiful moninetes, and I love the precision, passion, and musicality of their dancing. Enjoy.
Dissociation of Lead & Follower's Steps (Molinetes)
FIGURA DE TANGO MOLINETE A LA IZQUIERDA CON LAPIZ DOBLE
TANGO: ON-THE-BODY MOLINETE - Concepts - Adornos TANGO: ON-THE-BODY MOLINETE