Teaching Blind Leads

Over the past year, Salsaddiction and I have had the pleasure of teaching a blind lead, Thomas, how to dance Rueda de Casino.  It is a challenge because all the visual clues no longer work, and some calls are really hard for a blind lead to execute without bumping into people.

This post covers some of the modifications and useful tips that can be used to teach blind leads.

One of the first things a blind lead needs to be told at the start of the Rueda is how many couples are in the circle. This is required, because, through experience, the blind lead can figure out how sharply to make their arc while doing a dame upstream. For large groups, the arc is flat, as in the lead walks almost directly ahead and for small circles, the arc is sharper.

Teachers of blind leads needs to be specific about which hand and which direction a lead needs to turn when describing moves.  The fastest way to teach a blind lead is to have the caller become a follow and back lead, which through experience, works well.

Another visual cue that blind leads need replacing, is whether they are sequencing the moves together at the appropriate speed, outside of listening to the beat. It has proven useful for the caller to call out each part of a move as they happen, for example, for each enchufla in an “Enchfula Complicado“. The blind lead can then compare where they are, to where the rest of the group is, and compensate. Calling each part of a move also helps teach the blind lead that some moves, like the back-to-back dropping of the arms for Arco Iris, usually takes four or five counts instead of having the arms down by 3.

Dame Dos” – This call is difficult for a blind person to get right because the circumference of the circle changes with each new couple and the distance between follows can be highly variable. The following solution requires the blind lead to always be on the left of the caller:

After a Dame Dos call, the caller walks toward the second upstream follow and on 5, while passing in front of the follow for the blind lead says “Toma” (after Thomas!). The word has two affects, the first is that all the leads do a walking counter-clockwise turn before picking up their new follow and the blind lead now knows where to aim for to pick up the second follow. This should work for Dame Tres, etc.

Note: With a mike, the caller will have to mute it while doing the “Toma” call or the sound comes from all angles.


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Hidden Gem: Rueda de Casino Wiki

One of the hidden gems here at the Salsaddiction website is a wiki dedicated to documenting all the Rueda de Casino moves taught in our Salsaddiction classes.  You can find the wiki two ways, by following this URL – http://salsaddiction.com/rueda or at http://ruedawiki.org

The Wiki has over a hundred moves separated into basics, beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Each move has a description, and a Spanish to English translation of the pattern’s name.

Because dance is a three dimensional activity, the best way to learn it is by first having an instructor show you how to go through the pattern.  Then to keep the moves refreshed, watch a video.  The video can also show you things that you may have missed in class. To that end, as much as possible, each move in the wiki also includes videos of the moves.  Where there are regional variants, the wiki even attempts to document those differences.

For example, below is a screenshot of  the page for the Setenta pattern showing the prep, two instructional videos, advanced styling videos and even a regional variation video:

Because there is such a large jump in the learning curve between beginner and intermediate in Rueda, another unofficial benefit that Salsaddiction provides is a mailing list for Level II Rueda dancers.  After every class, an email is sent out listing all the moves taught in class and links to the Wiki.

Catch me in class and I will add you to our Level II mailing list or click to email me here.

The Rueda wiki is a unique resource unlike any other site and best of all, you are welcome to add your fixes!  It is a Wiki after all!  (You will need to create a free account and answer some tough questions like “Are you a bot?”)


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