Casino: Cuban Social Dancing
Submitted by Warren Kadoya, dance instructor
Note from the CommunityCare of Lyme Team: Cuban Dancing is a way to be well! And it’s just one of the wellness practices you can experience through a demonstration mini-lesson at the Lyme Health & Wellness Fair on September 30th 10am-1pm on the Lyme Common. Join us!
Casino is a social dance that originated in Cuba in the 1950s. The main dances that influenced casino were son, chachachá, and danzón. Its name comes from the ballrooms where the dance developed, which were also known as “casinos.”
Casino is a partner dance between two people: a “lead” and a “follow.” The lead initiates the steps and guides the follow, while the follow interprets the subtle physical and visual signals from the lead and moves accordingly, resulting in a smoothly coordinated dance. The dancers step along with the music, which is generally in 8-count phrases, on the 1, 2, 3, and 5, 6, 7. Counts 4 and 8 are used as transition steps and to shift one’s weight. Most casino moves are variations and/or combinations of a few fundamental motions, and leads can create their own moves within this framework. In addition, casino is a circular dance that involves stepping forward in most cases.
This is a Cuban social dance event in Tucson, AZ, including some casino dancing
Casino can also be danced as a group of couples arranged in a circle (or wheel), known as “rueda de casino.” Here, dancers switch partners and execute group moves in unison according to a caller. This requires quick thinking as the audio/visual signals from the caller may not be clear or familiar (the names of moves can differ between dance groups), and on top of that, the caller can try to challenge the dancers with rapid-fire calls. Being able to dance with everyone in the group in this dynamic and stimulating environment is a lot of fun and great exercise for the mind, body, and soul.
Here is an example of rueda de casino in a class I taught in 2019 as a member of TucSon Casineros
Here is an example of a more advanced rueda, called by Mike Eskeldson of Rumbanana (Corvallis, OR) in 2017
I have been dancing casino since 2010, principally in Portland, OR and Tucson, AZ, where I taught and performed with TucSon Casineros for four years. I hope to contribute to the Latin dance community in the Upper Valley, and particularly help build up the social dance scene through classes and events.
These are the current opportunities for dancing casino and rueda de casino:
Casino: Cuban social dance classes – Tuesdays starting September 19th, 7:00-8:00 pm
at Open Door (18 N Main St, White River Junction, VT 05001)
$15/class ($50 for all four)
You will learn the fundamentals of partner casino dance, including lead and follow technique, musicality, and body motion. No experience or partner needed. Please bring clean shoes.
Rueda de casino – Cuban dance class – Sundays, September 17th and 24th, 1:00-2:00 pm
at the bandstand in Lyman Point Park (167 Maple St, White River Junction, VT 05001)
This class will be an introduction to rueda de casino, in which couples dance together in unison, switching partners and performing group moves. No experience or partner needed. Donations accepted.
For more information about classes or to join the mailing list, contact TucSon Casineros – Upper Valley at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also on Facebook at facebook.com/uvcasineros.
Here is TucSon Casineros performing at the San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival in February 2020
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