Notes from the lab
 
 
It came to mind the other day, as I was dancing as a follow in Rueda, that leads often put too much force into their movements when leading. Now, what exactly do I mean by that? Well, if the follow can feel the force/torque in the leads’ hands, or if they feel a forceful push in their back as the lead checks them (like hockey)  with their free hand, then the lead is substituting force for technique.
 
Now before everyone starts bellyaching about what I’m saying here, give it a good listen first, and then you can complain.
 
When I was first learning Rueda, Dennis Ruiz often told me that, because my body was spatially out of place in the dance circle, I consistently used force to compensate for my lack of technique. I also had a habit of leaning on the follower in order to complete my turns. All of this could be contributed to my lack of good footwork, slot-style salsa background and a limited knowledge of the basics of Casino dancing.  So I decided to do some homework, AND to practice and here’s what I found.
 
Rueda de Casino is more  a series of angled lines that in total form a circle. Confused yet? Read on.
 
  1. AROUND VS IN LINE
We often hear that N-Y salsa is danced in-line, whereas Cuban is danced in a circle.  In fact, no one actually dances in a circle, for the centrifugal force would make the girl very uncomfortable!  The reality is that NY is danced on a line clip 1.1, but it tends to blur over the years and be of less importance, and Cuban is danced in a series of angled lines that form a circle in time clip 1.2Timba.com
 
 
. Therefore it is essential that the lead begins to move him/herself in a clockwise nature in the beginning* of the move in order to assure that the follow is in the correct position by the end of the sequence.(*for many moves but not all moves)
 
We stated it from the start, there is a major philosophical difference between the two salsas.  In N-Y salsa, the turns are at the very core of the vocabulary.  The vast majority of them are spotted or axed, which means there is no horizontal travel of the axis in the course of the turn clip 1.5.  If you have to turn and walk, it shall be done in two separate operations, and multiple turns are a regular feature.  In Cuban salsa, the turns take a back seat to the body movement, walks and curbs.  They are generally executed in a walking fashion, meaning there is a gradual horizontal travel of the axis clip 1.9 and multiple and spotted turns, if any, are the exception. – Timba.com
  
 
In video clip 1.9 the lead begins the move by moving himself in a clockwise manner. Most importantly is the fact that the leads’ hand does not need to spin the follow around the circle but merely to be in the correct position to allow her to walk through the turn. 
 
This small adjustment makes a huge difference in both the flow and the feel of the dance. Give it a try. 
 
In order for any of us to be good rueda dancers we need to understand the nature of the dance. I hope that this will help move us all along that path.
 
Peace
Dennis