A Wonderful Guide To Master Casino Dance

1. What is Casino dance? 

Originally casino dance, was a dance form known as rueda. Couples would join together in big dancing halls in Cuba and start dancing as part of a group. They would create coordinated dance forms under the guidance of a “caller”, someone who designated the types of dance movement the group should execute together. One of the particularities of this dance is that the dancers would form a circle and make sure this wheel never broke down. This circle could either move clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on what the caller ordered. Later-on casino dance, varied from the group format to include individual couples.

2. What is the difference between Casino dance and Salsa?

Although most of the dance styles that influenced salsa came from Cuba, salsa itself originated from New-York in the 20th century. Unlike casino dance, salsa tend to be danced in a linear way, while former is more circular. The beat where dancer break is also different. In New-York salsa dancers generally on 2 while in casino can be on 1. Moreover, casino dance has stronger Afro-Cuban dance influences. Indeed, with dances such as rumba, chango or Abakua the Afro-Cuban roots are more pronounced than in New-York salsa. 

2.1. The original Casino Rueda

Originally casino dance involved groups of couples who formed a wheel and created choreographed movements under the guidance of a caller. This move created for great visual effect, while allowing people to socialise and have great fun (take a look at that Rueda de Casino show).

social dancing with Casino rueda dance

3. Example of Casino dance steps

3.1. The circular motion that so define casino rueda.

As I mentioned previously, one characteristics of casino dance is the circular motion the dancers like to execute. One of these key features is when a man circles around a lady. Another circular move is executed when a man take a figurine pose. As he settles himself into that posture the lady moves around him, walking while holding his right hand. The man takes different fixated poses reminiscing of classical ballerinas. One such positions consists of the man resting on the toes of one leg while the other leg is extended. The lady still holds his arm as she moves around him in circle. This move itself is a Son move.

Typical circular move that define Casino dance

3.2. Walking move

Forward step of casino rueda dance

Another popular move of casino dance is a walking motion; either forward and backward or sideway. In fact, this step is another Son move. I love it because it’s a perfect way to match the clave with the dancer steps. Since the former is one of the key instruments a dancer needs to master in order to dance salsa on beat, this move is therefore a very good one to learn.
As the man moves forward on the 1st beat the lady goes backward. The whole 8 count of a basic salsa step is executed with man moving forward and the lady backward. After which the roles are reversed.
The same principle applies for the sideway move. They can either go to the left or the right. 

sideway move typical of Casino dance

3.3. Classical of casino dance

basic casino dance step

This third move forms one of the basis of casino rueda dance. Generally speaking, when a group forms a circle, they start with the walking steps describe above. It allows everyone to settle and make sure they are on beat. These walk moves tend to be followed by a backward and push step once the circle is formed. In this move the couple face each other. As they take a step back on the 1st beat, they gently push each other with the opposite hand on the 5th beat. This is a preparatory move before getting into more complex moves. It also allows the couples to be on beat with the music.

3.4. Move in position

basic dance move in position

The move is a very simple one. But it’s easy to misstep if you are not on beat. Both man and lady are in position, close to each other. With their hips and shoulders they shift their weight from left to right on beat with the music. The man will step on his left foot on 1 (lady uses her right foot) and on his right foot on 5 (lady uses er left).
This is a typical move of casino dance.

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