Salsa Classes Singapore: My Ist Rueda Experience

Sometime in the second week of January, I had the exhilarating experience of being thrown into my first Rueda class ever. Rueda, or Rueda de Casino, is a type of salsa choreography in circle form that is made up of several pairs of dancers, guided by a leader who calls the names of the various movements. Since a complete circle of pairs must be made up, there is a requirement for an equal number of male and female participants before a proper Rueda dance can take place.

I came armed with every intention to someday start “picking up” Rueda. Taking basic classes and picking up the moves in systematic order, step-by-step starting from the scratch, pretty much summed up the whole of my lofty aspirations.

Instead, I found myself in the middle of an advanced Rueda class, amongst people who had already been acquainted with the dance style for quite some time. Most of them had even taken part in Rueda performances before! It was during this class that I, feeling lost, shy, meek and thoroughly uneducated in the “ways of the world” for all my purposes right then, became painfully conscious of my two left (or was it right?) feet.

Rueda consists of some 120 different moves, all with unique and aptly conferred Spanish names. The basic step, the Guapea, is different from the salsa basic step – the latter requires a lady to do no more than leave her left arm free or allow it to rest on her partner’s arm. In contrast, the Guapea calls for the lady to lift her hand, and to hold it in a position where her palm faces her partner and is used to push off against her partner’s, in a move that allows the dancers to meet, “bounce” off each other, “bounce” back, and repeat the cycle.

Rueda is definitely proving to be more of a challenge than the lead-and-follow routine of social salsa. It is more demanding on the male lead, as he has to concentrate on the commands rendered by the “leader” of the dance, while continually adjusting his lead to accommodate the different needs of his new partner every time a “Dame!” is called. He also has to possess a thorough understanding of the steps corresponding to each set of moves, in order to ensure that the Rueda performance appears smooth, uniform and consistent. He also has to take charge of his position on the dance floor, as well as that of his partner’s, in order to ensure that the circle is maintained, and that neither steps inside or outside of the formation.

As a lady (and as a complete beginner), I was instructed to simply “follow” the male lead. I must emphasize that this was certainly no mean feat! I came away from the class feeling thoroughly humbled by my sorry exhibition of skill in “following”, having in my fluster and bluster committed the cardinal sin of “walking” according to whim instead of waiting for the lead and interpreting it accurately. That said, it is also crucially important for the men to ensure that their lead is clearly and precisely delivered, so as to ensure that the dance goes smoothly while preserving the essence of the lead-and-follow nature of salsa.

Finally, it was during this session that I came to realize just how important the fundamental techniques like keeping framework and proper “hooking” are to executing complex movements which the ladies may not be familiar with. The amount of progress I made during the lesson was, however, truly startling. I came to recognize gospel truth in the idea that, if the male lead is clear and the female is diligent in perfecting her follow techniques, she does not have to know the moves in order to execute them. I also picked up a great many new sets of moves which I had never previously conceived.

In ending, I can do no less than thank my instructors for introducing me a new way of learning dance – to simply “do” and not necessarily to “learn”, as long as your basics are sound. This jewel of wisdom will stay in my awareness for many days to come.

- Candice, 17 January 2007

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Starlinn Actfa DanceSTARLINN CHOO YANQING joined the SFDF program in 2004 while studying in NUS, training 12 hours a day; she completed her SFDF, Diploma & IHDC courses in 3 years, using her teaching income to finance her classes in Diploma & IHDC. In 2008 she pursued her IMDC Dance Business & is now doing her 3 years IPHDC Dance Product Research. While pursuing her IHDC she was already traveling around the world for assignments. more

Bianca Actfa DanceBIANCA enrolled in the SFDF course after A-levels. Within 6 months she was dancing as a backup dancer for MTV. She has also traveled to many countries like Germany, UK, Taiwan & Hong Kong to teach & perform, & was offered a position to dance in a few Musical plays. 

 Libin Actfa DanceLB, a masters degree holder working for a MNC, decided to do a career switch after he completed his SFDF. He then worked as an International Sales Manager in dance products, an international artist & dance instructor. He is the Singapore Bachata Champion 2008 and the 1st runner up in the Asia Salsa Championship behind Serge and Polina from Russia in 2010. more

manfred Actfa DanceMANGGOH was one of the elite few selected for the Mediacorp Dance Academy in 2000. He graduated from NTU with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and used to work as a Project Manager in the IT Industry. He passed his examination & evaluation for SFDF and is currently doing his Diploma & IHDC. more

maricel Actfa DanceMARICEL, a professional dancer from the Philippines, joined SFDF in 2009. In less than a year, she has performed at the Esplanade Da:ns Festival 2009, Salsa Cruise Asia 2009, & has also been to China to teach & perform. In 2010 she was offered a full time dance instructor job in Singapore. She has since gone on to set up a dance studio in the Philippines and comes back periodically to upgrade her skills.

rachel Actfa DanceRACHEL an undergraduate in NTU joined the SFDF in 2010 and was offered to open a dance studio in China.  She has taught and performed in Guang Zhou, Shen Zhen, Hong Kong, Singapore.

 derrick actfa danceDERRICK has over 20 years of dance instructor experience with more than 30 types of dance. He was granted an exemption from SFDF after taking an examination & evaluation and signed up for the diploma & IHDC simultaneously.

tamil actfa danceTAMIL, a professional dancer & teacher actively involved in competitions & performances for Hip Hop, Bollywood, Indian Dance. He was teaching dance in secondary school and choreographing for SYF. He joined the IHDC program to further his training as a dancer & teacher in 2009.  Since joining the IHDC, he has taught, performed & competed in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan.

brenda actfa danceBRENDA joined the SFDF when she was 13 years old and was hired to teach and perform both locally and overseas after 6 months. She was also financing her own dance study while teaching private dance classes.  Under the SFDF, she was the 1st runner up in the Asia Salsa Championship 2010 and Singapore Bachata Champion 2009.  She was given opportunities to teach in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China.

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