TIPS FOR SPECIFIC RUEDA MOVES
These notes are not intended to be a description of any of the moves. They are pointers and pitfalls to watch for as you dance.
To do this step, on beats 5, 6, and 7 leaders go forward on their right foot, then back on their left (as in the basic) and then on beat 7 they step onto their right foot and turn toward the partner behind them. On beats 1, 2, and 3 leaders move to their new partner stepping left, right, left. Then they initiate a Cross Body Lead on beats 5, 6, and 7.
Ladies meanwhile step forward with their left foot, back on their right, and face the center on their left foot on beats 5, 6, and 7. Then they do a very small back rock (but they don't throw their weight back) while the leaders are moving to their new partners (on beats 1, 2, and 3).
Then the ladies are led into the CBL on beats 5, 6, and 7. Ladies do the CBL by stepping first with their left foot and moving in a straight line across the man's body to get back into the position for the basic step (guapea). It is also important for ladies not to start their cross body lead until beat five---and wait for the guy's lead, even though they know the move.
Also, ladies want their CBL to be in a straight line. Sometimes ladies make an arc, as they are concerned about bumping into their partner. But the leader will be stepping out of the follower's way, so this should not be a concern.
Guys in the circle should all move at the same time as they travel to their next partner. If you're not sure of the timing, watch others who are experienced and move when they do.
FLY / HIGH 5 / HIGH 10 / BESITOS / LOW BALL
These steps are simple moves that are great to help teach the rhythm of the dance. Leaders turn to their right and face the lady behind them; they clap, “air kiss" or do a high 5/10 on beat 1. Followers turn to their left and face the leader behind them to do this move. Then everyone comes back to the basic position by turning back on beat two and resuming the basic step on beat 5.
Dame dos is conceptually and rhythmically identical to Dame una. But Dame dos is an exception to the "take small steps" rule. Leaders move to their new partner with a big step on their left foot (that is almost a lunge) on beat one. Note that guys get most of the way to their partner on that one step. They should be comfortably next to her and facing the center before doing the CBL.
An issue in doing/learning this step is that you need to do the turn in one beat. Beginners often turn slowly instead of sharply in a single beat. That puts them behind for the remainder of the move.
On beat 3, you get into what is essentially a ballroom "back-spot turn" position. Gentlemen should provide a firm but comfortable frame for the ladies on that beat which helps the partners move gracefully through the turn. This is not a common position in Rueda, but it's one that feels very nice when done properly.
PA TI PA MI
This step is conceptually simple---it's just three enchuflas. But it's a surprisingly beautiful move, given its simplicity.
You have to move through each enchufla fairly quickly (turning in one beat) to be ready for the next one. I find that if dancers lower their arms after each enchufla and then they raise their arms again to do the next one, it helps mark the rhythm. And to further help, if anyone is having trouble, I say "down" every four beats.
I highly recommend this step for demonstrations and performances by the way--it really looks beautiful from outside the circle.
EVELIN AND FLAMENCO
These steps start like adios. But almost as soon as the adios turn is initiated, the leader must start to break the lady's movement. It is unusual to start a move and stop it so quickly, but if that isn't done, the lady may turn too far. So be ready to lead a turn and put the brakes on almost as soon as it was begun!
In Flamenco, the guy also leads the lady in an exhibe. To lead an exhibe, the man should face the lady squarely while she faces the center of the circle. So they are at a 90 degree angle to each other.
Sometimes ladies make the mistake on an exhibe of turning in place. Instead, they should step forward on their left (heading right toward the center of the circle) but leave the right foot in place. Ladies pivot on the left foot, turning 180 degrees so they face outside the circle. They step on their right foot which was left at the perimeter of the circle, and pivot on that foot as well. So they are now facing the center of the circle again. Then a CBL ends the move.
In Kentucky, guys need to make sure that they turn all the way around to face the center. They often don't quite get that far around when first learning the move. They must be sure also that they are up on the circumference rather than behind it. In addition, the leader’s right hand stays on his shoulder while only the left goes overhead. This has a much sharper look than allowing both arms to go overhead. Note that this requires isolating muscles which requires some practice since people are accustomed to using their arms in tandem.
EL UNO AND/OR EL DOS
On uno and dos, remember that both partners are doing diagonal back rocks (like cumbia steps). No one is doing a forward rock.
Also, I think it's best for beginners to face the center on those steps, and for their steps to be small. If the guy takes large, enthusiastic steps, it can tug on the lady's arms. For this reason, it's best for the leader not to rock too far side to side. A lady's arms are most comfortable relatively low and by her side.
VARIOUS STEPS THAT BEGIN WITH THE TAP ON THE 8TH BEAT
That one little tap really throws a lot of people. Sometimes, it especially throws experienced Salsa dancers because they've spent so much time stepping only on beats 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. If you've done something countless times a certain way, it can be hard to change even if it's a small change. Practice will cure that problem, of course.
But here are a few pointers on the tap itself. Your knee should be bent; that is, don't straighten the knee out and then tap. (That makes it hard to get to the next step in time.) And don't put a lot of weight on the tapped foot. It has a little weight, but you step onto that foot with your full weight on the next beat, beat one. What is important is stepping right on the beats, and this requires good technique or it's hard to do that quickly.
SIETE / SIETE MODERNO / SIETE LOCO
On siete, how far the lady turns in is a matter of taste or preference. But if you are first learning, I suggest a shallow turn of 180 degrees, from facing into the circle to facing out of it. If you roll further than that, unrolling from such a tight pose can be strained in the time you have.
As you go on with other steps that "stem" from siete, it is important for ladies to leave their hands up around mid-chest level. In Siete Moderno for example, the leaders need to switch hands quickly and they need to be able to find the lady's hand easily. So when you do any of the sietes, ladies should make a special effort to leave their hands where the leader can easily find them. This is good general advice for other steps as well by the way.
When Rueda dancers do Candado, there is a tendency to stomp the steps once they complete the "Kentucky-like" turn and the ladies are facing the leaders' backs. The noise of this stomping makes the music hard to hear. Because of this, I've seen dancers either speed up or go too slowly. So keep a close ear out for the music whenever you do this step.
This is a dame step, but you move "upstream" or clockwise to get to the next partner instead of going in the usual counter-clockwise direction. The trick is to get all the way around to the lady’s left side by beat 3 so that the CBL can be done comfortably the usual way.
A common mistake that I see in executing this step is for the ladies to spin the turn. The vacila turns are also called “walking turns” and thus they don’t have a spin done on one spot. Followers walk through the turns, advancing as they take each step.
VACILENSE LOS DOS
This step is identical to Vacila for the ladies. But the guys also turn in Vacilense Los Dos. Guys can turn in the same direction as the ladies (to the right), or they can turn the opposite direction (to the left). The latter essentially uses the momentum of the lead to initiate the turn and looks quite nice. And I've seen guys do either one or two turns.
Blending steps means that the next step is called 8 beats before the end of the previous step, so you go right from one step into the next with no basic in between. Some dancers consider a goal of a good, sophisticated rueda circle to have a minimum number of basic steps so that the movement really clips along. This certainly makes it exciting for the dancers in the circle.