The Cha-Cha is a lively and fun dance that really gets you moving on the dance floor. Quite similar to the Rumba and Mambo, Cha-Cha took the slower steps of both dance and added a triple step. The Cha-Cha has become a must learn for beginning dance students. Throughout the years gaining popularity due to its simplicity and energy.
The History of The Cha-Cha
First introduced to the United States in 1954, the popular dance was at one time referred to as Cha Cha Cha. By 1959, the dance movement gained so much popularity that it eventually replaced the Mambo as the most popular dance. By this time the name has been reduced to the famillar Cha Cha. By far the biggest reason of the cha cha explosion is its versatility. Allowing dancers to create their own hybrid dances.
The basics moves of the cha cha are very simple. The leader starts off with their left foot and the follower starts with their right foot. During the next beat, the follower counts one or three of the measures. At the same time, the leader would adjust their movement to the follower’s location on the dance floor. The follower walks forward in the first two beats of each pattern then steps three times at the end of the movement. This is known as the anchor step.
There are two versions of the origin of the name Cha Cha. The first gives credit to a Cuban violinist named Enrique Jorrin. Jorrin coined the term “Cha Cha” to vocally mimic the shuffling sound of the dancer’s shoes when it hits the dance floor.
Pierre Lavelle is credited as importing the Cha Cha to the continent of Europe. During the 1950’s Lavelle would travel to Cuba to observe and study the culture’s style of dance. He noticed how the dancers added additional steps to the normal Rumba and Mambo dances. When he returned home from Cuba, he began teaching this hybrid dance we all know now as the Cha Cha.
The second version of the origin of the Cha Cha states that it hails from religious ritualistic dances from the West Indies. Historical studies show that Voodoo band leaders used small rattles created from Cha Cha plants to create a unique sound. The distinct rattle combined with bells and drums were used as a metronome to measure time when dancing and singing.
Different Styles of Cha Cha
When dancing the Cha Cha there are two distinct styles being performed, International and American Rhythm. The international style is mostly used competitive dancing and is more advanced. It is recommended that a dancer should learn the American rhythm style before trying to master the international. Both styles share similar characteristics such as:
- Steps are small, most movements coming from hips and pelvic area
- Danced to a steady 4/4 beat
- usually dance to some form of Latin style music
No matter the style of Cha Cha you choose the basic dance steps remain the same:
- With your left foot forward, slide and shift your weight to the left foot. While keeping the right foot still in its place.
- Now shift weight onto your right foot
- Place weight back to the left foot, slide left
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The Cha Cha is still considered one of the most popular dances at dance competitions and couples ask to learn the dance for weddings. It is a fun dance to learn that will bring you memories for a lifetime. Take the first step in your journey to a new world of dance. Schedule your lesson or class today.