Structure of the Curriculum
© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com
RuedaUSA's classes are organized around the referenced five phases, summarized as follows:
Phase OneStart-up Moves (Al Medio, Abajo, etc. - they get the Rueda started) Phase TwoTransition (Dile Que No - lady goes from gent's right side to left side) Phase Three Guapea (Rueda basic - in neutral, waiting for the next Rueda call) Phase Four Partner Exchanges (Dame, Dame Dos, Vacila y Dame, Arriba, etc.) Phase Five Rueda Moves (Enchufa, Sombrero, Vacila, Dedo, Uno, Doce, etc.)
Note about Phase Five - At RuedaUSA, we divide Phase Five - Rueda Moves - into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels based on the nature and complexity of the moves. As explained below in detail, we group them into "Families of Moves." Note that we treat the tap on the 8th beat as the dividing line between Beginner and Intermediate levels. Here is the framework within which we organize and teach Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Rueda Moves:
- Simple moves (no taps on the 8th beat - Enchufa, Adios, Uno, Dos, Izquierda, etc.)
- More complex moves (no taps on the 8th beat - Kentucky, Doce, Ponle Sabor, etc.)
- Intro to the Miami Tap on the 8th beat (for moves that start from the tap)
- Intermediate moves (which start from the 8th-beat tap - Vacila, Sombrero, Dedo, etc.)
- Advanced moves (some with the taps on the 8th beat, and some without):
Setenta Nuevo, Noventa, Siete Setenta, Kentucky Complicado, Beso por Abajo, Siete Loco Complicado, Consorte, Huracan, Bebe, Sambuca, Dedo Loco, Tijera, El Zorro, La Estrella, El Medico, La Cuadra, La Jenny, La Julie, Micaela, etc.
- Group moves (beginner and intermediate - Puente, Candado, La Flor, Cadeneta, etc.)
- Dancing Rueda in a beginner/learner mode (a basic or two between moves)
- Dancing Rueda in a more dynamic mode (very few basics between moves)
Ahhh... The Famous Miami Taps!!
© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com
The Miami Taps - There are Rueda moves that depart from a tap on the 8th beat, and Rueda moves that don't. Many of the more interesting and challenging Rueda moves depart from a tap on the 8th beat. For RuedaUSA, the tap on the 8th beat is the line of demarcation between beginners and intermediates.
The Miami Taps are the second most distinguishing characteristic of the Miami/Cuban style (after Guapea), as compared to club-style salsa. The taps involve a dab with the toe on the 4th and 8th beats. The tapping foot is not weighted (the opposite leg continues to carry the body's weight). Student note: Once you have tapped, you always take the next step with the same foot you tapped with. Always!!
The taps are often hard for many students to learn. Please recognize that this is normal and work on the taps. You need to master the taps to become a top-notch Rueda dancer, especially the tap on the 8th beat which is the point of departure for many intermediate and advanced moves.
More Work on the Taps - Many Rueda instructors do not fully realize how difficult it is for many students to learn the taps. Instructors sometimes find themselves struggling with students on intermediate and advanced moves, failing to realize that the students are not struggling because of the footwork pattern or upper-body mechanics, but because they don't have the taps fully under control.
Tap Exercises - At RuedaUSA, we have developed various tap exercises to ensure that students understand the taps, and are able to execute them on demand. Until students have mastered the tap exercises, they don't proceed into the intermediate moves. We have found that, if students are drilled on the taps first, they usually have little trouble with the moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat.
Note to students: If you're having trouble with the tap moves, don't assume that there is something wrong with your dancing. You probably haven't been given adequate instruction on the taps. Ask your instructor for more guidance and drills on the taps. Practice the taps with your fellow students. Or, take lessons at another Rueda school where you can receive adequate instruction on the taps.
Taps Seemingly Everywhere - Gradually, students will notice that sometimes there seem to be taps throughout a particular move. That's correct. Paseala, Paseala por Arriba, and Pasea y Complicate, for example, are full of taps on the 4th and 8th beats. In addition, dancers from Miami and Cuba tend to put taps in their dancing all the time, to the extent that you may be unable to discern pauses on the 4th or 8th beats.
Bottom Line - To dance Rueda beyond the beginner level, you have to master the taps, especially the taps on the 8th beat from which many of the more interesting intermediate and advanced moves depart. If you want to dance "al estilo Cubano," you have to master the taps. So, don't avoid the taps. Embrace them. Learn them. Learn them early on. Learn them well. They will bring joy to your Rueda and Salsa dancing!! Wepa!!
Beginner Intermediate and Advanced Moves © 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com
Moves You Will Actually Use - At the bottom of this section, you will find a listing of the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced moves that we teach at RuedaUSA. This list is not all-encompassing. We focus on what we consider to be the most important moves at each level that we feel casineros (Rueda dancers) will actually use in their Rueda dancing. We don't include moves that involve a lot of arm manupulation which some of the Miami Rueda schools are into these days. We feel these types of moves are overly gymnastic and will rarely be used at clubs or parties anywhere outside of Miami.
Every Salsa Casino school classifies the Rueda moves into slightly different beginner, intermediate and advanced categories. You can readily observe this by looking at the curriculum of various Rueda schools on their websites. Some schools break down the moves into subcategories, like: Beginner level I, Beginner Level II, Beginner Level III.
Precise Categories Not Important - To us, it doesn't really matter if you put the moves in precisely the right level or sub-level. Lots of time is spent arguing over what moves belong in what categories. That's mostly a matter of opinion anyway. So, don't waste time trying to put all the move into tidy boxes. We'll give you a better way to categorize the moves.
Of course, it's important to work on being able to remember the moves and being able to recall and pronounce their names. To that end, you will find it helpful to go over the lists at the bottom of this page as you are learning the moves. We strongly recommend that you print out the lists and check off the moves as you learn them. Be prepared at each class to ask the instructor to review any moves that you feel you have not mastered.
Focus on the Big Picture - Most importantly, think about the big picture. Work on being able to visualize the basic pattern of the moves. To visualize a move, it is helpful to key in on how the move begins, as opposed to trying to remember the whole move at once. Understanding the families of moves, as discussed below, will help you in being able to quickly recollect how the moves begin.
Focus on Key Factors - Learn to think in terms of groups of related moves (see discussion below about "Families of Moves"). Then, distinguish between moves that involve the tap on the 8th beat, and those that don't. Distinguish between one-handed or two-handed moves. Then determine if they start with crossed hands or not.
Crossed Hands - Students often get exasperated trying to remember which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't. Yep, it's hard. It was hard for me when I was learning Rueda. All leaders have the same difficulty, not just you. At RuedaUSA, we have deliberately organized the curriculum so as to make it easier for you to distinguish between moves that start with crossed hands and moves that don't. Read on.
The issue of crossed hands comes up in a big way at the Intermediate level. In the list of intermediate moves at the bottom of this page, the Vacila, Siete and Setenta moves never begin with crossed hands. On the other hand, the Core Tap Moves always start with crossed hands (either single-handed or two-handed moves). We organized the curriculum that way on purpose to help you quickly sort out which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't. We think you will find this very helpful.
Facilitate the Learning Process - At RuedaUSA, we do several things to facilitate the process of learning the moves, remembering their names, and remembering how they are done. The first thing we do to facilitate the learning process is actually something that we don't do!! We don't include any tap moves at the beginner level. Wepa!!
It's hard enough for beginners to figure out what is happening in a Rueda, understand how to change partners, and learn all the basic moves without having to contend with the taps on the 8th beat. Moves that start from a tap on the 8th beat are very confusing to many students. That's why we don't introduce tap moves until the intermediate level.
Mix Up Tap and Non-tap Moves - Be advised, however, that virtually all Rueda schools mix up tap moves and non-tap moves from the very beginning. Salsa Lovers Dance Studios, for example, puts the following tap moves in its Beginner instructional tape: Vacilala, Vacila y Dame, and Siete. Salsa Racing Dance Studio includes the following tap moves early in its Beginner instructional tape: Vacilala, Sombrero, Setenta and Dedo. Neither video offers any useful guidance in how to do the taps.
Why Mix Them Up? - Cuban and Miami instructors mix up the tap and non-tap moves primarily because they grew up dancing that way. Dancing with taps is second nature to them. They do it all the time. No problem... for them! It rarely occurs to them that many dancers have trouble with the taps.
As a result, Cuban and Miami instructors give little thought to how hard it is for some students to master the taps (on tap moves like Vacila, Sombrero, Dedo, Montana, Beso, Balsero, etc.) while they are learning what Rueda is all about, learning the beginner moves, and learning the partner exchanges. Injecting tap moves too early into the learning process, especially for students that have never used taps in their dancing, often leaves these students confused and exasperated, feeling like they are never going to get it.
Two Main Ways to Start Rueda Moves - In the total panorama of Rueda moves (at all levels), the vast overwhelming majority of moves begin in one of two ways: 1) From a back rock on the 1st beat (leaders rock back on their left foot - followers rock back on their right foot); or 2) From a tap on the 8th beat (leaders tap with their left foot - followers tap with their right foot). Differentiating between moves that start with a back-rock and moves that start from the tap on the 8th beat is the single most basic way of categorizing the Rueda moves. So, have that distinction in your mind at all times.
The Simple Non-tap Moves - The second thing we do at RuedaUSA to facilitate the learning process is that we group all the simpler moves together (those that do not depart from a tap on the 8th beat) and teach them as the beginner moves. While the students are learning all these beginner moves (and the partner exchanges), we gradually introduce the RuedaUSA tap exercises (the taps on the 4th and 8th beats). By the time the students have learned most of the beginner moves, they are ready to graduate into the intermediate moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat.
The tap on the 8th beat is a clear dividing line between beginner and intermediate moves that students can easily visualize and understand. Moving beyond that dividing line (from beginner to intermediate) involves a more complex dance technique. That dance technique is the tap on the 8th beat which is the point of departure for numerous intermediate (and advanced) moves. Before moving into the intermediate level, RuedaUSA students must first master the taps on the 4th and 8th beats. It's not very difficult. It's just something that needs a brief concentrated focus.
Families of Moves - The third thing we do at RuedaUSA to facilitate the learning process is that we group closely related moves into "families of moves" and teach them in those groupings. It is our experience that students learn them a lot better and faster that way.
Other Rueda schools do not do this. They mix up tap move and non-tap moves all over the curriculum landscape. When students run into a related move later on, their reaction is usually: "Didn't we do that already, or something like that? Is it the same move? How is it different?" Result... confusion!
Groupings of Moves - Many Rueda moves can be put into groupings because they begin in the same manner and share certain elements. At RuedaUSA we've created four Beginner groupings:
And, we have created four Intermediate groupings:
Beginner Groupings - We group the Dame moves together, including: Dame, Dame Dos, Dame con Palmas, Dame Dos con Dos, Dame Con las Manos, Dame con Vuelta, Dame con CocaCola, Dame al Medio, Dame la de Arriba, etc.
We group simple Enchufa moves together, including: Enchufa Sencillo, Enchufa, Enchufa Doble Sencillo, Enchufa Doble, Festival de Enchufa, Pa' Ti Pa' Mi, the various Pelota moves, etc. Note: There are dozens of moves at all levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) that start with an Enchufa. Enchufa is simply a left-hand turn for the lady. Like Izquierda and Setenta, an Enchufa is used to start many, many moves, at all levels, not just the simple beginner moves referred to above.
We also group Candado moves together, including: Candado #1, Candado Pa' Ti, Candado Sencillo, and Candado (goes into Trencito and involves Pa' 'rriba Tiempo Espana, Tarro, Tarro de Mentira, etc.). We group the Adios moves together, including: Adios, Adios Doble, Adios con la Hermana, Adios con la Prima, Adios de Mentira, Evelyn, etc.
Intermediate Groupings - As we said, we have created four Intermediate groupings: the Vacilala moves, the Siete moves, the Setenta moves, and what we refer to at RuedaUSA as the Core Tap Moves.
The Vacila Family - We typically begin the Intermediate level by teaching two important elements: the taps on the 8th beat, and the Vacila footwork. The Vacila footwork is common to many intermediate moves (and advanced moves). The moves that we group into the intermediate "Vacila Family" include: Vacilala, Vacila y Dame, Vacila y al Centro, Vecilense los Dos, and Vacila con Baiben (done from a tap on the 8th beat - compare that to Baiben in the beginner moves done from an Enchufa). Note: The Vacila moves never begin with crossed hands.
Note to the Ladies: Learn the Vacila footwork particularly well. This footwork is the foundation for many, many moves in the intermediate and advanced levels of Rueda. Every time a leader takes you into a tap on the 8th beat, the Vacila footwork begins immediately on the very next beat (the 1st beat of the new 8-count). How often?? Always!! There is more for the ladies to learn in the Vacila footwork pattern than for the men. So, ladies, pay close attention to the Vacila footwork.
The Siete Family - Then, there are the moves that we group into the "Siete Family." This family includes: Siete, Siete con Coca Cola, Siete Moderno, El Atrevido, Three Way Stop, Siete Loco, and Siete Loco Complicado (this last move is taught at the advanced level). These are closely related moves. They share common elements, especially the beginning of the moves wherein the lady rolls into the man from the tap on the 8th beat. Note: The Siete moves never begin with crossed hands.
The Setenta Family - Setenta is another key intermediate move that departs from the tap on the 8th beat. Learn it well. It has many variations. We group all these variations into the "Setenta Family" and we teach them in that aggregation. These moves include: Setenta, Setenta y Mas, Setenta con Gancho, Setenta Complicado, Setenta Complicado Derecho y al Reves, Setenta Nuevo, Siete Setenta, etc. We also include Consorte and Noventa in the Setenta family because they start with a Setenta. Note: The Setenta moves never begin with crossed hands.
Core Tap Moves - RuedaUSA treats a particular set of intermediate moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat as a family of related moves. We call them the Core Tap Moves. These Core Tap Moves share the following characteristics: They depart from a tap on the 8th beat, they are done with crossed hands (one-handed or two-handed), and then go directly into the Vacila footwork.
We call them the "Core Tap Moves." They include: Dedo, Montana, Balsero, Beso, Abrazala, Sombrero, Abanico, Juana la Cubana, Sombrero Doble, Sombrero de Regnier, etc. Note: The Core Tap Moves moves always begin with crossed hands (they are either single-handed or two-handed moves). We organized the curriculum that way on purpose to help you remember the handholds for these moves.
Along with the Vacila, Siete and Setenta families of moves, the Core Tap Moves are the heart of intermediate Rueda. Learn these four families of intermediate moves really well!!
Mix Them up Later - As students gradually become familiar with a "family of moves," we mix up the calls so that students understand that, in real ruedas (as compared to ruedas in the learning mode), moves will not be called in those family groupings.
Summary - In summary, don't worry about fitting all the moves into precise Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced categories the way all the Rueda schools presently categorize them. That doesn't matter very much. Concentrate on placing the moves into the correct "families of moves."
At the Beginner level, the families of related moves include: the Dame, Enchufa, Adios and Canado families. At the Intermediate level, the families of related moves include: the Vacila, Siete and Setenta families (which never begin with crossed hands), and the Core Tap Moves (which always begin with crossed hands).
Make sure to distinguish between moves that depart from a back-rock on the 1st beat, and those that depart from a tap on the 8th beat. Learn to distinguish between one-handed or two-handed moves. Learn to identify the moves that begin with crossed hands.
Note: The issue of crossed hands comes up in a big way at the Intermediate level. The Siete, Vacila, and Setenta moves in RuedaUSA's syllabus never begin with crossed hands. The Core Tap Moves, on the other hand, always begin with crossed hands (either single-handed or two-handed moves). We organized the RuedaUSA curriculum that way on purpose to help you remember which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't.
If you organize your thinking around these eight families of moves, you will end up with a much stronger knowledge of Rueda. A good understanding of these eight families of moves at the Beginner and Intermediate levels will give you a very solid foundation in Rueda. Learn them well and you will have over 100 of the most important Rueda moves in your repertoire!
Final Note: An important part of our purpose in teaching Rueda/Salsa Casino is to add a great variety of moves to your Salsa repertoire. Therefore, we have noted in green all of the moves at the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels that work well in partner dancing in the clubs. The moves that don't work in partner dancing are the partner exchange moves and the group moves.
© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com
(This level starts with the Tap Exercises)