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What is Rueda de Casino? Rueda is a type of circle dance that came from Salsa de Casino in Cuba, meaning “Casino Wheel”. To understand Rueda, we first have to understand a little about the culture and behind Cuban Salsa.
Salsa was born in Cuba from a mix of dances from Afro-Rumba, Son Cubano, Danzon, Cha-Cha-Cha and Bolero, at the base of salsa is the social aspect of changing partners and dancing with everyone.
In the 1950’s as the dance continued to develop, circles of salsa dancers formed to create what we now know as Rueda de Casino.
A Rueda in perfect synchronisation is amazing to watch!
Each dancer is paired with a leader or follower and positioned to make a circle. Rueda is not a choreography, it all spontaneous routines called by one person who is named “Il Cantante” the singer, they call the steps that the dancers have to make, swapping partners many times as they move around and keep the shape of the circle. The names of the steps are usually in Spanish or “Spanglish”.
It is important that all participating in the Rueda know the steps and how to keep the timing with the music, usually the Caller tries to trick the dancers and make them make mistakes, which can cause a lot of laughter.
Rueda de Casino always brings people together.
Each community or village in Cuba has their own special calls that are unique to that group of dancers, the names can be confusing to outsiders so that only that group can participate. Rueda became so popular that dance groups formed and now there are even competitions for Rueda de Casino groups, and it soon spread across parts of the United States and through the world, today there are many festivals and competitions held purely for Rueda de Casino dancers.
Remember your foundations of Cuban Salsa have to be strong in order to dance in the Rueda de Casino successfully! As you progress as dancer and your routine knowledge, the Rueda routines become more difficult and more variations of moves appear – there is no ending!
Rueda de Casino is only taught in Cuban Salsa classes due to tradition and style – Cuban salsa is danced in circles and turns which makes dancing in one big circle make sense. Other styles of salsa dance mainly in lines and makes it impossible to keep a circle.
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1102 people turned up in Greece to hold the largest Rueda de Casino in the world, dancing in sync for 7:16 in total!
Article by Rhian Saunders (Havana People)