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.

Cheers!

Sean
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Roman Gonera’s Dance Journey

Ubiquitous dancer of salsa

For dancers new to the Salsa scene in Edmonton, it’s Salsaddiction’s pleasure to introduce a warm, dynamic salsero by the name of Roman Gonera. This guy is known as a treat to both watch and dance with at Salsa nights Thursdays at the “On the Rocks” nightclub. Roman is well known by the ladies for his strong, clear lead and pleasantly surprising moves. He possesses a European style of charm that delights us, and the humour he injects into dancing amuses the guys as well.

Not everyone knows that Roman is originally from Poland and only arrived here at the age of 16. He explained to me how grateful he is to his father who sacrificed a lot in his life by escaping to Greece from a communist regime that restricted opportunity and freedom. His father then went on to work very hard to bring his whole family over to Canada.

In his day-to-day work life Roman is a a Stock Broker specializing in Futures Trading. If you want to learn more about the exceptional value that can be found in owning mutual funds, equities and assets, he’s your man! Few people are aware that Roman also keeps in great shape by balancing this high stakes financial work with occasional stints as an Oil Rig driller. I’m sure the dance around the dangerous pipes, chains and huge wrenches on the rig floor must have helped his rhythm.

Roman began salsa in 2002 when his friend Patricia Wallace brought him to a salsa class. He quickly became hooked on this dance and, like many beginners, took lessons for a year to acquire the basic skills and tried to relax with the moves. He describes how he said to himself one day, “I’m going to go all out and get good at this Salsa thing!  Nothing less will work for me!!” Eight years later this focus of attitude clearly has paid off. It’s so evident when you see his joy and creativity on the dance floor.

For new dancers wanting to increase their comfort and skill at Salsa, Roman advises them to “keep at it, take lots of lessons and don’t give up because eventually you’ll relax and find your own style”.

When you dance with Roman, you will find he’s consistently kind and supportive – steadily encouraging you while making sure you have a lot of fun as well. So, if you see Roman at On The Rocks or any of the Salsaddiction social dance nights, enjoy watching him dance for awhile then introduce yourself. It’s a good way to catch a dance with him too.

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