ANDRÉS MOLINA – THE ABSOLUTE MASTER OF CALI SALSA STEPS
If someone can be called a master of Cali style salsa steps, it’s Andrés Molina (Andrés Felipe Molina Gomez). Looking at him, it seems as though his feet were moving on their own. And if you’d ever want to learn how to move your feet in Cali, here’s the person to turn to!
From moving your body to dancing
Nearly every Caleño (person from Cali) knows how to dance. But knowing how to move your body and really knowing how to dance are two very different things. And until the year 2005 Andrés Molina (34) had been moving his body like any other Caleño. However, that’s the year when he learned about steps, posture and the count of salsa for the first time.
Before Andrés got into salsa, he was studying at the School of Sports (Escuela de Deportes) of Cali. While there, he saw a presentation of salsa. He paid attention to the rapid footwork, yet at the same time thinking that all the steps repeated themselves all the time. For him, there seemed to be no variation whatsoever. Nevertheless, he was intrigued by what he saw.
The brother of a dancer
It’s not like Andrés didn’t have any connection with dance before starting to dance himself. His sister studied ballet and was in the artistic group of El Manicero where they danced salsa in ballet shoes (my first salsa teacher in Cali used to dance in the same group!). As she was entitled to get her brother in for free, Andrés’ sister finally convinced him to start with dance classes.
Nearly right after Andrés entered El Manicero, the former director of the school, Gladys “Pupy” Lopez, put him into the third level of the classes (the second hardest level of the school). Yet, Andrés started the classes together with his current wife and she asked him not to leave her alone in level one. So, also Andrés started dancing from the very basics – which he is now thankful for, because otherwise he probably wouldn’t be able to teach beginners like he does.
From student to teacher
After 3—4 months of dancing in El Manicero, Andrés got the opportunity to go to Cuba. He won a scholarship for studying Cultura Física y Deporte (Physical Culture and Sports) and spent five years in Cuba. During his vacations, however, he used to return to Colombia. And in 2011, on one of his vacations, he was asked to teach dance for two months in El Manicero. A challenge he accepted with joy – especially as having studied anatomy in Cuba, he could easily explain all the specific body movements to students like few other teachers.
When he moved back to Colombia from Cuba, Andrés was giving physical education classes in a high school and working as a waiter at nights. In other words, he was working three jobs at a time, day and night. Then, on one December night Kanelo gave him a business card of Arrebato Caleño. The two men already knew each other from El Manicero and now Arrebato was looking for new teachers. So, exactly a year ago, in 2016, Andrés started teaching in Arrebato Caleño.
Thinking outside of the box of Cali steps
Arrebato is the place where Andrés noticed that Cali style steps don’t need to be boring. From Kanelo, a master at old school Cali style salsa, he learned to combine the traditional steps like patineta, punta-talón and latino with each other and with other steps. He realized that in the end there is an endless combination of steps in the world – all you need to do is use your own imagination. What he also learned in Arrebato is to dance according to a count from one to eight. It was only there that the foreigners demanded to know on which number to take certain steps.
Although Andrés teaches dance in two schools, he doesn’t consider himself a professional dancer (bailarín). Instead he says he’s an amateur dancer (bailador), who has never done shows before the 25th of November 2017 (which is when I also did my first salsa show at the annual Gran Fiesta of Arrebato Caleño). He also did one of the choreographies for the very same party. Very soon, the choreographies of Andrés and Miguel will also presented in La Topa Tolondra, Salsa Al Parque and Tin Tin Deo.
A dream for the future: sleep one whole day
What Andrés most likes about salsa is how he can express himself through it. He also loves teaching and seeing how people learn new things in his classes. A dream the hard worker and father of two small children has for the future is being able to sleep for one entire day at some point in his life. However, if it wasn’t for the money, the biggest dream of Andrés would be to travel the world. First, he would like to visit the island of San Andrés.
P.S. Me and Andrés gave a class at La Topa Tolondra on some Cali style steps and hip movement. If you haven’t seen this yet, check this out!