Explorations in Rueda – Rueda with 2 callers

Having more fun with couples out of synch, and introducing Rueda with 2 callers.

In the Rueda guide at Chapter 9, I introduced a few moves for Ruedas with an even number of couples which temporarily organise into two interwoven sets. Each alternate couple dances out of synch with the other set of couples by 8 musical beats, and in some variations dance different moves. Chapter 17 describes a more sophisticated version of this separation where the two interwoven Ruedas execute the same moves but separated in time by 4 musical beats (Rueda cruzada). These notes describe some further variations on a similar theme.

‘Bataille de Ruedas’ (battle of the circles)

The first new idea was introduced by Bernt Rygg of SalsaNor at the 2013 Southampton Rueda Congress and adds variety and challenge to Rueda cruzada. This variation which he calls ‘Bataille de Ruedas’ (battle of the circles) begins as a normal Rueda cruzada, but then a second caller is nominated for the set or couples who are dancing 4 beats behind the ‘caller couples’, on the normal timing. From that point onwards, the two callers call moves independently, so that their respective Ruedas have the potential to interfere with each other or to block each others moves, through for example Leaders having to avoid crashes on Dame moves. The whole point of this is for the two callers to find combinations of moves that are either pleasingly complementary or in conflict in some way. Beware that chaos can easily result!  Presumably a call like ‘Rueda normal‘ by the primary caller can get the circle back in order, and into the same timing, ready to continue or start all over again.

Semi… (half…) 

The second deceptively simple idea was introduced at the same Rueda Congress by Knut Leiss of Bonn Germany, who is the inventor of Rueda espejo (mirror rueda) and noted for other ‘intellectually challenging’ Rueda variations. This one is relatively straightforward and is perhaps the simplest possible way of getting into 2 interwoven circles, albeit temporarily. It involves nothing more than a call of ‘Semi‘ (half) as a modifier to any other move e.g. ‘Semi enchufla‘, or ‘Semi dame‘. This call indicates that only the set of alternate couples which includes the caller should do Enchufla or Dame (which actually becomes the equivalent of Dame dos) while the other set do the basic step (which in this example would be Guapea, but in other dance positions the relevant default step). After the move is completed everyone continues as normal i.e. all couples back in synch in one big Rueda, either returning to the default step, or responding to the next call.

Semi…with two callers

This idea can be taken much further, and combined with the idea of 2 callers from ‘Bataille de Ruedas’.  At Cambridge Rueda this variation emerged when playing around with Knut’s original idea (thanks to Jason), exploring whether the caller could maybe call Semi followed by 2 different moves for each of the respective circles (e.g. Semi prima enchufla) to get the circles doing different moves, rather than one dancing the basic step. Although possible, the name of moves would quickly become long and so quite difficult to call.

If however the initial caller designates a second caller from the other set of couples, the moves which they each call then apply only to ‘their’ half of the Rueda, and move names are almost the same length as normal. This structure opens up new possibilities, and the ‘Semi’ modifier call takes on a different aspect, since each caller has the option of calling a move with or without the ‘Semi’ modifier, i.e they can each now control either the whole Rueda (no modifier) or using the Semi modifier control only their own set of alternate couples.

The two callers can then engage in a version of ‘Bataille de Ruedas’, trying to outdo each other and cause either logjams or interference. They have the option of calling not only different moves for their respective circles, but also moves of different length, calling a series of ‘Semi…’ moves for ‘their’ Rueda, to avoid a pause, denying the other caller the opportunity to call a normal move for the full Rueda.

Or perhaps more constructively, the two callers can work as a team, seeking harmony by interweaving moves of different length, looking for opportunities to bring everyone back together at a suitable point. A combination of these two options seems to work best.

To make this work:

  • To nominate the second caller, the initial caller points at the second caller and calls something simple like ’you call’ (which would maybe be ‘Cantas’ or ‘Cantaras’ if you wanted to keep to Spanish) to indicate that they take on this role, which then lasts to the end of the song.
  • Everyone has to listen carefully for the calls to know whether to dance the next move as one big circle, or as an alternate-couple circle, and need to be constantly aware of which of the  two callers to respond to.
  • Leaders have to concentrate particularly hard, since each time they change partner with a Dame in the full circle, they may have switched from one set to another and so have to respond to a different caller for the next move.
  • If both callers happen to call a non-modified move at the same time, the initial caller has precedence.
  • There is no need for a ‘Rueda normal’ ending call, since as soon as the last ‘Semi.. ‘ move has run its course this is the default, i.e.. everyone continues to do the basic step as appropriate for the dance position, such as Guapea in the open position.

It is quite difficult to describe how this works in practice, so you will just have to have a go and see what works for you. Uncertainty is a big part of this Rueda variation, with the novelty factor being that not everything is completely under control, which may of course not suit everyone.

If you want to get quickly into some of the more challenging possibilities with this variation, try mixing dance positions.  One caller moves  ‘their’ Rueda to a different dance position, so for example while the other couples are in the open position, move to say the closed position, Rueda formation, Estrella or Afuera.

There are bound to be times when this variation doesn’t quite work, and some impossible combinations and conflicts should be expected.  My only advice is to enjoy the chaos, and get quickly back into a normal Rueda. In Cambridge Rueda we have been playing with this for months off and on, and the fun we have had far outweighs the occasional confusion!





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