The idea of a Rueda standard
Rueda de Casino is a dynamic dance constantly evolving. It’s casual, belong on the street, up to date, and constantly challenging the dancers. In Havana and Santiago de Cuba you may see what district people come from on the basis of the way they dance rueda de casino, i.e. which “dialect” they are dancing. Wanting to introduce rueda de casino to eager dancers outside Cuba, this was quite a challenge, also in various cities in Norway. So we decided to something about that, and to start by gathering the rueda crowd.
The idea behind an annual Ruedagathering was on one hand to create a gathering place for Cuban Rueda in Norway, where the various rueda groups could meet to exchange rueda variationes and learn new commands. Secondly it was important to gather instructors and promoters of Cuban rueda in Norway and Scandinavia to develop and agree on a common platform / standard that everyone assumes when to teach and dance rueda in this region.
The origin of The Norwegian Rueda Standard (TNRS)
Although the Cuban rueda de casino is characterized by dynamism and constant innovations, it contains a lot of basic commands / figures that have been around since the origin of Rueda de Casino, and also forms a basis for new commands and figures. At the Rueda Gathering 2002 in Stavanger, Norway, the rueda instructors in Norway agreed on 50 basic Rueda commands that would constitute the Norwegian Rueda Standard. This standard has since been the basis for most educational programs for Cuban Rueda de Casino in Norway.
In the following years, the number rueda dancers in Norway multiplied, and there were salsa festivals that included rueda classes with foreign instructors. We have also been inspired by other international rueda dancers and instructors. The lists of rueda commands reached hundreds of commands that were used actively by Rueda dancers.
Prior to the Rueda Gathering 2005 the Norwegian, rueda instructors met again. The aim was to extend the rueda standard with about 50 new rueda commands. (In 2007 the Rueda gathering changed its name to the Norwegian Rueda Congress, and in 2012 to SalsaNor’s Rueda Congress.)
Part 1 (2002) and Part 2 (2005) contained a total of about 100 Rueda commands, and were included in the workshops for the Rueda schools throughout Norway.
The general commands (like repíte) were separated from the other commands, and a small vocabulary was created. Vocubulary is a list of Spanish words commonly used in Rueda de Casino not being typical commands, for example vecina (“neighbour”, referring to the woman in the neighbouring couple).
The tradition was kept, with of a revision of the Norwegian Rueda Standard every third year and the same year as the Rueda Congress was held in Stavanger.
The need for more rueda commands was less at this point, but the standard needed a revision to reflect the developement of the rueda impulses.
Instructors from more cities in Norway than ever before were invited.
The commands were organized in groups with headings (like “formación de rueda“), the vocabulary was extended, about 20 new commands were added, and some commands were now removed – see list of used-to-be standard figures.
In the 2011 revision of the rueda standard the most urgent thing was to do something about the large amount of rueda commands to help new dancers to deal with it. The rueda standard was split in two parts:
- core commands
– the most commonly used commands in general (in Norway, Europe, Cuba, ..).
Basically the commands you would expect that people can dance in a normal social rueda. In short, the commands to focus on for newcomers.
- more commands
– additional commands, popular figures and commands that are widely used at the time.
Some of these may be replaced after a while, depending on the developement in rueda groups around the country.
In 2011 a few new commands were added, and some were taken out – see list of used-to-be standard figures.
In the 2014 revision the most signifficant changes was to divide the rueda commands into 4 levels, and to add a section of combinations of commands.
The ide behind the levels was to suggest an order in which the rueda commands are taught and learned, to make it easier for new rueda dancers to start with commands that are most widely used. The section with combinations is meant as a help for callers and teachers, with ideas to how to combine commands, and especially the general commands, the add-ons, the vocabulary and the other sections.
Other additions in 2014 were: a few new rueda commands, some more vocabulary, 3 new rueda structures.
A small set of rueda figures was also removed – see list of used-to-be standard figures.
And there was a focus on the website (ruedastandard.com), introducing explanaitions of the rueda structures in English and Spanish (see rueda structures), a listing of rueda groups / schools using the Norwegian Rueda Standard (see Where to dance?) and an open Facebook Group for any suggestions, discussions, etc. See news for more details.
The name and logo was ajusted to adapt to a more international focus, and “Norwegian” was removed to avoid the impression that the Ruedastandard consists of Norwegian Rueda figures. The Ruedastandard document was also modified quite a bit, altering the categories somewhat.
How to think about standardisation about the various Rueda structures was finally resolved by the decicion of describing all the Rueda structures taught at the annual SalsaNor Rueda Congress (since 2002) with text, illustrations and video. Only transit commands are standardised, the structure are only documented and described with thier known variations.
About 15 new figures were added, 12 figures removed (mostly Casino figures), and a handful figures were changed.
The Ruedastandard is spilt in 2:
- Ruedastandard: The most basic and common Cuban Rueda de Casino commands (like in the original idea from 2002).
- Rueda & Casino figures: the other common figures and commands, with videos available.
Figures from the 2017 update of the Ruedastandard without videos are put on the used-to-be list. This implies that several of the old Ruedastandard YouTube videos will need a new recording, to be made available on vimeo.rueda.casino. New figures, combinations and material about Rueda structures, combining rueda figures, and separate videos on movements and styling will be added on a regular basis.
The tradition of updating the Ruedastandard every third year is now broken. This is to keep the Ruedastandard (list 1) stable without signifficant changes, and to update the other rueda & casino figures (list 2) more frequently, based on input from SalsaNor’s Cuban rueda.casino network.
Printable list of the Ruedastandard from 2019 and the other rueda & casino figures is presented in September for the SalsaNor Rueda Congress in Bergen.
The documents are updated to reflect the content available on video at vimeo.rueda.casino.
The Ruedastandard is stripped from combinations, and now contains the common rueda figures only. The figure adentro y afuera is recorded, explaining the three most common names for this figure. When several names are used for a specific common rueda figure, we are now trying to document that fact, in stead of choosing one of them.
Even though social dancing has been restricted worldwide during the covid pandemic, rueda.casino has published new videos every week. Several of these videos are ábaco figures, a dance created in 2015 to follow rueda commands. You dance in a group without partner, so this is a rueda related dance actually possible to dance socially with social distance.
Other rueda & casino figures are updated, marking videos already available or recorded and ready to be published in 2021.