Blending Moves
Blending Moves
The Basic Concept

When I first learned Casino Rueda moves, one thing that made it particularly exciting was to blend the moves which was done by calling the next move at the end of a move in progress.  We went right from one move into the next with no basic in between.  It made the dance look like a long sequence of movement so it flowed seamlessly when in fact the dance was a series of discreet steps, done back to back.  A very simple example of this type of blending is the step "festival de enchufla" or "festival de adios."  (In these steps, you do three enchuflas or adioses in a row respectively with no basic in between.)

But the concept of blending can be taken to a higher level, by moving from one move into the next before the first one is done.  You don't start the second move at the beginning generally, either.  Here is how it works:  the second move is called anywhere from 3 to 8 beats before you move into it (depending on many variables).   After hearing the call for the second move, the leader must intuit where to leave the first move and at what point in the second move that one starts.  Sometimes the point of entry into the second move is intuitively obvious and sometimes it is so non-intuitive that most people have to be taught how to make the transition.

Sometimes there seem to be more than one point of entry into the second move.  When that is the case, the principle of going to the earliest possible point in that move applies.  That is "richer" since it creates the longest sequence of movement possible from the blending..

It is fun in class, once students are solid on the component moves, to do this sort of blending.  Glen Minto, who teaches advanced material in some of my classes has introduced many blending sequences such as those below.

Some Beautiful Blended Sequences of Beginner/Intermediate Level Moves

                                 Kentucky --  Exhibe - Setenta

This sequence is like the beginning of Kentucky Complicado, but you don't finish that move.  You basically move into the Exhibe 8 beats before the end of Kentucky.  Sententa is called as the man rocks into the circle on his left foot.

                                Dedo - Enchfula Doble -- Exhibe

In this sequence, you call Enchufla Doble after the first 16 beats (i.e. 12 steps) of Dedo.  Note the leader also needs to change which hand he is leading with to do the Enchufla Doble.  In order to do the Exhibe at the end, you have to think of the Enchufla Doble as a move with no partner exchange.  You want to think in terms of ending it much the way  you end Adios con La Hermana or Pa Ti Pa Mi.  So leads pull their partner in towards themselves, rather than moving on to the next partner.  And once the follower has been pulled in towards the leader, they are in position to execute the Exhibe.

By the way, to make the move a little more interesting, you can always do Exhibe dos con una or Exhibe con gancho instead of a plain Exhibe.  (Exhibe dos con una is a double exhibe and then one more Exhibe that is altered a bit with an extra turn.  Exhibe con gancho is an exhibe with a hook and then guy and girl walk around doing 9 steps in 12 beats before they unhook and end with enchufla etc.)

                                Montana - Exhibe - Juana la Cubana - Abanico

For this chain, you do all but the last 8 beats of Montana and move into the Exhibe.  At the end of the Exhibe you are in position to do Juana la Cubana.  And as you go through that move there is an obvious point where you are positioned like you are in Abanico after you do the first 8 beats. So you move into Abanico at that point (when you turn the lady and then yourself). 

                              Beso -- Exhibe - Juana la Cubana - Abanico

Note that this is the same as the previous sequence but you just start with Beso instead of Montana.

              Beso - Exhibe -- Sombrero Doble - Exhibe - Dedo con guarapo y bota

This starts the same as the sequence above it, but you substitute Sombrero Doble for Juana la Cubana.  Those two moves have the same position at the end of the initial Sombrero so you can see how they would be interchangeable at the front end.  After the back to back turn in Sombrero Doble, you can eliminate putting the leader's hand behind the lady's shoulder so leads are in position to easily lead the Exhibe.  (You are basically eliminating the last 8 beats of Sombrero Doble.)  When leads step in toward the center of the circle for the Exhibe, Dedo con guarapo bota is called.  They do only half of the Exhibe, then move into the end of the last step in the sequence.  This is the point where leads circle around the ladies and then move on to the next partner.

Montana - Exhibe - Juana La Cubana - Sombrero Doble -Exhibe - Dedo con guarapo y bota
Note that the first 3 steps are from an earlier sequence.  Then you move into Sombrero Doble, and near the end of that move, go into Exhibe.  The last three moves in this sequence are also linked in the sequence above this one.  You move into Dedo guarapo y bota near the end of that step (i.e. when leads and follows are turning around each other before switching partners).

Dedo - Uno y Dos  --  Balsero  -- Beso - Exhibe --  Juana la Cubana - Sombrero Doble - Exhibe - Dedo guarapo y bota

The chains can be longer and longer.  In this sequence, you do the first 16 beats of Dedo and then start Uno right from the beginning.  You do two of the side to side Uno rocks and then the guy comes in front as he does in the combination step Uno y Dos. Then, 8 beats before the end of Dos, move into Balsero.  Balsero is truncated a bit the say way it is for the combination step, Balsero y Beso.  Again, 8 beats before the end of the Beso, you go into the Exhibe.  From that point on, this sequence is the same as the one above it!

Note that in terms of the calls on this sequence, Balsero is called just before the leader brings the lady to his left side for the sombrero part of Dos.  Then 12 beats later, Beso is called.

General Comments

Note that when you look at the sequences above, you cannot necessarily move from one sequence into another one at the point of a move they have in common (though  you often can). The reason for this is that the moves aren't always done with the same hand or from the same position. A good example of this is the Exhibes which cement a number of the moves together in these chains.  One Exhibe may be done rather differently from the way another is done, based on how you enter it.  As a Rueda teacher named Glen Minto likes to say, "Not all Exhibes are created equal."  As a result, if you want to blend a sequence that you construct, it might look fine on paper but you really have to try it out to see if it works smoothly.

Another matter of interest, is that the closer to the time of transitioning between steps that you call the next one, the more challenging it is. The dancers have less time to think.  You never call more than 8 beats ahead of moving into the new step, but it can be closer than that if you want to ratchet up the challenge level.  You have some latitude in many cases on exactly where the call is made. This is unlike the standard for calling a circle in which case the call comes on beat one nearly all the time.

If you are new to this blending, and want to try a few simple sequences to get started with it, here are some that I can recommend:

Kentucky - Exhibe - Setenta

You may be used to this if you do Kentucky Complicado so it will be familiar.

Montana - Exhibe --  Juana La Cubana - Abanico

Note that Exhibe is called about 16 to 20 beats into the Montana.  The later the call is made, the more challenging the transition is.  But even when called 20 beats into Montana, you have enough time to make the transition.

Dedo -- Uno y Dos - Balsero - Beso

Some Beautiful Blended Sequences of Advanced Moves

First an important note is in order.  As might be expected, the advanced moves are somewhat less standardized than the more basic moves.  I have seen only one way to do Enchufla or Enchufla Doble for example, but many ways to do Sombrero Doble or Setenta. And the longer the move, the more variability you can encounter.  I learned El Classico one way from one teacher and then some time later, relearned a considerably different version from another teacher. Here is another, similar story:  On one visit to Miami, a teacher from Salsa Lovers had taught me a move one way and the next day another teacher there showed me the same move, but he did it differently in a couple of respects.  I had so many moves swimming in my head at that point, that I didn't even realize the discrepancy until I got home and started studying the videotapes.

You will no doubt find the same thing as you move up the scale to increasingly complex steps.  Don't let this bother you. There is not necessarily one right way to do these moves.  As I am fond of saying in my classes, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."  In many ways, this variability and the creative use of moves as well as the latitude to make up new ones is what makes the dance rich.

Of course, the sequences for blending moves really depend on how each move is done.  So if you are reading this and don't see how the blending can be done, don't assume you are wrong. You might do the move differently making the blending impossible.  Or you just may not be familiar with a particular move if you are not in one of my classes. For example, we do a gorgeous move called Carnival Complicado that consists of the beginning of Carnival, then it goes into a hand toss that we call part of Carnival Extended, then it incorporates part of La Presa and finally part of El Classico. 

If you are in another city and like a sequence but can't get one of the links to work well or you don't know one of the moves, you may be able to figure out a substitution.  In fact, if you come up with something very cool, feel free to share it with me (  I'd be happy to credit you and add it to this list.

Carnival Unisex - Azuquita - Sueter - Lipton

Carnival Complicado --  Presa

Note that around the middle of Carnival Complicado it incorporates part of Presa and then part of Classico.  We move into Presa at almost the very end of the move, after doing the segment of Classico.  It would be possible to move into Presa earlier, but it is aesthetically nice to go as far as possible toward the end of the first move and then go to the earliest point possible in the second move whenever you blend moves.  That way the full sequence is as long as it can be made (if you have options).  So the fact that part of Presa is in Carnival Complicado has nothing to do with how the two moves are blended!