On August 21, 2005, the Miami Salsa Congress, produced by Rene Gueits of Salsa Lovers Dance Studio, undertook to break the world record for the size of a Rueda circle. They did this as a highlight to their Congress, and they succeeded in breaking the record! This was done on the last day of the Congress
weekend, and it was a quite an undertaking. We all
had to register for the event and got T-shirts that said
"World's Largest Rueda" which everyone wore. By
folding the circle a number of times to create a
figure eight, the hundreds of Rueda dancers were
able to fit their "circle" into the hotel's large ballroom.
It was clear that Rene was following some ground
rules for establishing the record and documenting
what we did. We all had to sign our initials next to
our names on the long list of participants.
The caller, Ramani Nicola, stuck with simple
moves so that beginners could step into the circle.
In fact, all the moves were reviewed before the large
circle was formed, so those who were unsure of
any could go over them. I was asked by someone who knew me from the D.C. area to review Montana with him---and that was about the most complex move we did.
The event was filmed and we took photos afterwards of the hundreds of dancers who participated. I found the whole experience uplifting, not because of the record but because of the sheer thrill of dancing in unison with so many other people. Rene announced afterwards that we had succeeded in making history! It was such a nice idea to include this in the Congress activities.
As much fun as that was, in my opinion, the spontaneous Ruedas that took place at the party that night were just as special. Many top names had performed in the show, so they were on hand for the Rueda. Henry Herrera called the moves, and I saw Edie the Salsa Freak, Maykel Almuina (director of Salsa Lovers' performing team), and other well-known Salseros in the circle. Henry called lots of funky steps with Afro-Cuban body movements and as usual, made it a lively and original circle.
For example, at one point he had opposite sides of the circle come in toward the center and pass through each other. But it was far from orderly. Some couples veered and zig-zagged. So in fact, a large mass of couples moved out of a circle and then reformed into a circle after some significant chaos. It was really a kick; I've never seen that done!
To top it all off, he led something really hilarious. There is a move called caminala where you clap your partner's hands (kind of like a high 10) and then turn (guys turn right and ladies turn left) and clap the hands of the person behind you. You do this many times, and each time you turn, you clap your own two hands together. So you are clapping on beats 1, 3, 5, and 7.
We did that move, but then Henry started bending his knees to go lower and lower with the circle following his lead. Soon he was actually sitting on the dance floor, turning his body from side to side to continue the clapping. And then he rolled back so that he was lying on the floor-continuing to clap from side to side. It was absolutely hilarious. He then got back up to a sitting position and then a standing position, just the way he'd gradually lowered himself. There is never a dull moment when Henry calls; we were all really laughing. No doubt about it----August 21, 2005 was a day of some remarkable Ruedas.
In closing, I want to comment on the evening shows that took place at the Congress. What always strikes me when I see the shows at Congresses is how varied they are. It's such fun to see what different products people create out their imaginations. There are always so many different ideas and themes in the performances.
One group from the Salsa Caliente Studio in Gainesville, Florida, did a great show that opened with waitresses holding trays of drinks for guys who were seated. They then danced using the trays beautifully. Later they used sashes from their costumes as a vehicle for leading. That is, instead of partners connecting by hand contact, they connected by holding the sash. They led many nice moves that way!
Another large performing team (I apologize for not recalling the name of this group) paused the music repeatedly, showing the ladies in the identical pose. This was done during some steps that involved a great deal of movement, so winding up in the identical pose required unbelievable synchrony. It was certainly very effective.
It's a joy to see the wealth of ideas and interpretations that spring from one dance! I am soon going to participate in something quite imaginative myself. I've been asked to perform in a Gala presentation at a D. C. area event that will feature simulations from scenes of movies about dance. It will essentially be a celebration of famous dance scenes in movies.
The event where this was performed covered all types of partnership dancing from Salsa and Rueda to ballroom and swing. So the movie segments included the Waltz scene from the Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez movie "Shall We Dance," a tango scene from "Scent of a Woman," a disco scene from the John Travolta film "Saturday Night Fever," etc. In all cases, people with expertise in the dance created a presentation to mimick the movie scene. They used the original music, similar costumes, etc. I was asked to prepare a routine similar to the Rueda scene from the movie "Dance With Me."
I think the variety show director, Joyce Szili who came up with this idea deserves a lot of credit. It's a very original concept for a show, and I'm delighted that I was part of such a cool presentation! At every dance event and Congress I attend, I am half surprised that there are still more new and creative ideas that I haven't seen before. It appears that imagination is really limitless.
The author, Barb Bernstein teaches Casino Rueda in the Washington D.C. area (including northern Virginia and Maryland). For information on these classes and related shows/events, please visit: www.DanceInTime.com
Thanks to Rene Gueits for all his work in putting the MiamiSalsaCongress together. For more information on the world record and this annual event, please visit www.MiamiSalsaCongress.com.
For information on the dance event that is featuring movie simulations at their Saturday night Gala, please visit: www.InternationalDanceProductions.com.