A Contradanza study

A Contradanza study

Rueda linea is described in Chapter 14 of the guide, including references to its roots in Contradanza. These notes from a class taught by Yanier Carbonell Vegueriz from Cuba (Rueda and Afro-Cuban event at Mundesley, Norfolk, May 2013) describe a more authentic form of  Contradanza and  this set of moves formed part of a ‘Salon’ session, explaining the historical roots of Salsa and Rueda de Casino in Contradanza, Danzon, Son and Cha cha cha.

Rueda linea, is generally danced as an interlude during a normal Rueda sequence, but these sets of moves begin in a straight line Contradanza format before moving into a circle for Tumbau Francesa. Although it would be possible to then continue into normal Rueda moves, this small set of moves is perhaps better kept as a short stand-alone introduction to the roots of Rueda. Suitable music to accompany this would be Danzon music if you have some, or if not, the slowest Cha cha cha you can find

Remember, this is an attempt to re-create a little of the feel of dancing 200 years ago. Have a look at the Contradanza videoclips on the ‘Roots video links’ pages of the blog to get an idea of the appropriate music, style, and authentic dress. Imagine you are wearing, voluminous and probably quite stiff formal clothing, which in the warm humid climate of Cuba must have been  uncomfortably hot, so you need to take slow, economical, and of course elegant movements. Or just ham it up!

The start

Start in 2 lines, one of Leaders one of Followers, couples face each other about 2 steps apart. The Leaders line is to the left, Followers to the right, relative to the lead couple at the head of the line (this is the opposite of Rueda linea, where the default position is based on the Rueda open position).

 – Leaders bow and Followers curtsey towards their partner.

– Step towards each other with small shuffling steps (as in the Rueda closed position), take LRH/FLH and turn to face the head of the line.

– Mark time in place for 8 beats.

First figure

Tunnel (Tunnel) This is similar but slightly different to the version of Tunnel commonly danced in Rueda linea.

The couple at the head of the line release hold, LE turns to his left, FO to her right to face the rear of the line, and lift their other arms  high (LE left, FO right) over the heads of the other couples as they step forwards towards the rear of the Rueda.  They do not join hands but just hold them up as if making an approximate tunnel shape.

Meanwhile the other couples step forwards towards the head of the line. As each couple takes the head of the line position, they do the same as the first couple, releasing hold, turning, and making a loose arch. This sequence is repeated until the original lead (caller) couple return to the head of the line.

As each couple reaches the rear of the line, they turn to face the head of the line, retake LRH/FLH and step forwards.

Depending on the number of couples in the line, this could be repeated, to end with the  leader (caller) couple back at the head of the line.

Mark time in place for 8 beats, before beginning the next figure.

Second figure

Puente (bridge) This is fundamentally different to the Rueda figure of the same name, and in the session was taught to slow Cha, cha, cha music.

The lead (caller) couple at the head of the line release hold and turn inside (LE right, FO left) to face down the line, take LLH/FRH and lift their arms high over the next couple, who duck under the arch as they step forwards. This takes 4 beats.  On the next 4 beats the former lead (caller) couple turn to face the head of the line, change hands to LRH/FLH and reverse backwards under an arch made by the next couple. So couples move in 2 directions. Those moving forwards either duck forwards under an arch of arms (they continue to face forwards with LRH/FLH) or stand and make an arch. Couples moving back down the line either make an arch or reverse and back under an arch (holding LRH/FLH).

This sequence of couple making arches and ducking under arches made by successive couples continues in a wave down the line, as each couple reaches the head, they turn and make an arch (always beginning with an arch).

Repeat this pattern until the caller couple gets to the end of the line. they mark time for 8 beats then return up the line. It is not clear whether this is always an arch or a duck to begin with, and may depend on whether there is an odd or even number of couples, but it will probably become clear after some initial chaos!

At some point, after 1 or 2 repeats, the caller couple end up at the head of the line and everyone stops moving, and marks time for 8 beats ready for the next figure.

Third figure

Fuente (fountain) This is the same idea but different from the version of Fuente described in the guide, involving couples peeling off in alternate directions, and perhaps could be called as ‘Fuente en parejas’ (fountain in couples).

– Mark time for 8 beats, holding LRH/FLH and facing the head of the line.

– The couple at the head of the line turn to the left keeping hold, so as to face towards the back of the line. Take small, shuffling steps as in the Rueda closed position.

– The next couple steps forwards to the head of the line, then turn to their right so that they face the back of the line. Meanwhile the couple which has turned to face the back steps towards the rear end of the line. 

– Alternate couples repeat this pattern of turning to the left and right, and stepping towards the back of the line.

 As each couple reaches the rear of the line, still keeping hold they turn to re-enter the line, and then step forwards towards the head of the line.

Continue, either until the lead (caller) couple are back at the head of the line, or if the number of couples is small, repeat, but end with the lead couple at the head of the line.

There doesn’t seem to be an obvious call for this, but the next variation is to peel off in pairs as before, but instead of re-forming the line from the back, couples form a Rueda (circle), each facing the centre, marking time with small in-place steps, ready for the next move. FOs are to the LEs right side, holding LRH/FLH i.e.in a reversed version of the open position.

Fourth figure

Tumbau Francesa variation. This is essentially the same as the familiar Rueda figure, but it begins in the opposite (clockwise direction, and adds small bows and curtseys on each partner change).

Followers are to the Leaders right side, holding LRH/FLH. Release hold, LEs turn towards the FO at their left side, FOs turn to their right. Offer and take LRH/FRH. Commence the usual Tumbau Francesa move, (LEs and FOs travelling around the circle in opposite directions, taking alternate hands with successive parters) but LEs travel clockwise, FOs anti-cw. Perhaps add small bows and curtseys on each change of partner.

On return to the original partner take LRH/FRH and rotate 180 degrees to face the opposite direction (with LRH/FRH the rotation is clockwise. With an odd number of couples I think this would be anti-clockwise?)

Now continue with Tumbau Francesa in the opposite direction (i.e. the more familiar Rueda version, LEs travelling anti-clockwise, FOs clockwise).

The ending was not explained, but once back with your original partner you could either take the closed position and step out of a circle and back into two lines, and begin all over again, or perhaps do some basic closed position moves.





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