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 rueda-gathering 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 calls. In 2007 the Rueda gathering changed its name to the Norwegian Rueda Congress, and in 2012 to the SalsaNor Rueda Congress.
Part 1 (2002) and Part 2 (2005) of the Ruedastandard contained a total of 100 rueda calls/figures. These figures were included in workshops for the dance schools teaching rueda de casino throughout Norway.
The general calls, like “repíte” were separated from the other calls. Also, a small vocabulary was created, a list of Spanish words commonly used in rueda de casino that are not considered to be typical rueda calls, 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 SalsaNor Rueda Congress was held in Stavanger.
The need for more rueda calls was less at this point, but the standard needed a revision, to reflect the developement of the new rueda impulses.
Instructors from more cities in Norway than ever before were invited this year.
The calls were now organized in groups with headings like “formación de rueda“, the vocabulary was extended, about 20 new commands were added, and some calls were now removed, mostly figures that were unclear or not much used for other reasons.
In the 2011 revision of the Rueda Standard, the most urgent task was to do something about the large amount of rueda calls, to help new dancers not drown in calls. The Rueda Standard was split in two parts:
- core calls
– the most commonly used calls 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 calls
– additional calls, popular figures and calls that are relatively 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 calls were added, and some were taken out.
In the 2014 revision the most signifficant changes was to divide the rueda calls into 4 levels, and to add a section of rueda combinations.
The idea behind the levels was to suggest an order in which the rueda figures may be taught, to make it easier for new rueda dancers. The section with rueda combinations was meant as a help for callers and teachers, suggestoins to how to combine rueda figures in calls, and especially the general calls, and the vocabulary.
Other additions in 2014 were: a few new rueda calls, some more words in the vocabulary, and 3 new rueda structures.
A small set of rueda figures was also removed.
And there was a focus on the website promoting the Rueda Standard (ruedastandard.com), introducing explanaitions of the rueda structures in English and Spanish, a listing of rueda groups / schools using the Rueda Standard (see Where to dance?) and an open Facebook Group for any suggestions, discussions, etc. More details in news post.
The name and logo were adjusted to adapt to a more international focus, so “Norwegian” was removed from the title of the Rueda Standard, to avoid the impression that the standard consists of home made Norwegian rueda figures. The Rueda Standard document was also modified quite a bit, altering the categories.
How to include the various rueda structures in the documentation of the Rueda Standard was resolved by the decicion of describing all the rueda structures taught at the annual SalsaNor Rueda Congress (since 2002) with text, illustrations and video. Transit commands in and out of the structure, from regular rueda de casino, may be standardised, but the structure itself is only documented and described with known variations.
About 15 new rueda figures were added, 12 figures removed (mostly casino figures), and a handful of figures were changed slightly.
The two parts of the Ruedastandard, introduced in 2011, was now emphasized more:
- Ruedastandard: Only the most basic and common Cuban rueda de casino calls are now refered to as the Ruedastandard. This corresponds to the original idea from 2002.
- Rueda & casino figures: other common rueda and casino figures and combinations are seperated, and the focus of this list are the figures with an educational video available at the newly started video channel rueda.casino.
The tradition of updating the Ruedastandard every third year is now outdated. The goal is to keep the Ruedastandard (list 1) stable, without significant changes, unless something fundamental changes within the rueda community.
As the rueda.casino video channel grows, new figures, combinations and other related dance topics will be added to the list of rueda & casino figures (list 2) regularly. Figures from the 2017 Ruedastandard with no video available, are taken out of the list, and new figures will appear, based on input from SalsaNor’s Cuban rueda.casino network.
Printable list of the Ruedastandard from 2019 and the other Rueda & casino figures were presented at the SalsaNor Rueda Congress in Bergen, September 2019.
The documents are now updated to reflect the video content available at vimeo.rueda.casino.
The Ruedastandard is stripped from combinations, and now contains only the very most common rueda figures.
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. For example, the figure adentro y afuera is recorded, explaining the three most common names for this figure.
Even though social dancing has been restricted worldwide during the covid pandemic, rueda.casino has published new videos every week almost throughout the year. Several of these videos are ábaco figures, a dance created in 2015 to follow rueda calls. In ábaco you dance in a group without partner, so this is a rueda related dance, actually possible to also dance socially with social distance.
Other rueda & casino figures has been updated, marking videos already available or recorded and ready to be published in 2021.