I’d like to discuss an issue that has been ongoing for the past few years.  In the past few months I  heard that some new dancers were asked to leave rueda circles, with the implication that they were not good enough.  We’ve been through this many times, but still don’t have a consistent policy or direction. 

I feel that it is rude to ask a dancer to leave the circle.  If a new person doesn’t know a particular move then they can do guapea – what is the big deal?  Sometimes a train wreck might happen if someone doesn’t know a move – so we all get to practice recovering from train wrecks.  Usually a new person who doesn’t know the basics will self-select out of the advanced circle, but if they don’t we shouldn’t just kick him/her out.  

I’m all for having an advanced circle to do faster and more complicated moves, and the advanced dancers deserve to practice at a higher level.  But we need to find a way to achieve this without creating an atmosphere of exclusivity.  At one time we discussed creating a list of moves that everyone in the advanced circle is required to know before participating.  Great idea, but we never produced or published that list, so we are still in limbo.  Until we have such a list, I suggest the following:

1. As Nadja suggested, have a standard greeting for newcomers, explaining our practice structure and encouraging them to join practice from 4:30 to 5:30.  I feel that new people should be included in the circle for learning new moves with the rest of us (even if those moves are perceived as complicated).

2. The 5:30 – 6:30 advanced rueda circle should be explained.  We can ask new people to self-select whether they are experienced enough to keep up in the advanced circle.  If they feel they need more practice, they can use that time to work in a separate basics circle or with a single partner.  And it has been really helpful to have Kyra and Darrell, among others, to teach the basics to new people. 

We should strive to be inclusive to everyone while allowing everyone to dance to their level.  I think we can work toward that by being clear about our objectives and allowing some freedom of self-selection.  Until we have a more structured format for determining the qualifications for the advanced circle, we need to welcome  newcomers within the structure we have.

See you Sunday!

Jain