The cha-cha-cha is commonly referred to as the Cha-Cha. This is a famous ballroom dance with its origin from Cuba. On an excursion to Cuba in the 1950’s, famous dance instructor Monsieur Pierre noticed the Cubans had a new and unique dance. Pierre studied the dance’s movements and choreography and noticed something peculiar about the beats of the dance. In particular, Pierre noted that the dance began on the second beat and the fourth and last beat was split. Taking down copious notes and remembering the dance methodology, Pierre returned to his native England and began to teach the dance there. The dance quickly grew in popularity and spread worldwide from there. The version of cha-cha that Pierre brought back from Cuba and taught in his dance studio is the version of cha-cha taught to ballroom dance students today.
The music for cha-cha can vary. As the dance is so versatile, cha-cha may be danced to traditional Cuban music or nearly all music from South America with a steady continuous rhythm. Unlike traditional ballroom cha-cha, the original Cuban version is more sensuous, involves the partners standing close together and sometimes contains multifaceted or contradicting rhythms.
Generally, most introductory ballroom dance students begin learning the cha-cha with “one two, cha cha cha” steps. This is a simplified version of the proper step timing, which is actually “four, one, two, three” or “two, three, cha cha cha.” Depending on the student’s ability and desire to learn more advanced cha-cha moves, it may behoove the student to begin learning the cha-cha with the proper timing technique.
The basic idea of the cha-cha is the lead taking a step with the left foot towards his (usually the lead is a man) partner while retaining some weight on his left foot with the left foot remaining straight. Next, the lead takes his left foot back past the right foot. Next the lead takes a step back and to the left with the left foot. Take your right foot and put it beside the left foot. This is the cha-cha chassé. The size or length of the steps may vary depending on different factors, including the height of the dancers and/or the effect that the dancers are going for. The follow (usually a female) will in a sense mirror the lead’s moves. Every step the lead takes the following will perform the opposite in an opposite direction. The famous hip movements of the cha-cha are seen through the weight shifting, the bending and straightening of the knees and shuffling of the feet. The video on our cha-cha dance class page will help demonstrate the technique and steps of the cha-cha. Although the dance evolved since its journey from Cuba in the 1950’s, it still retains its traditional Cuban flavor as the basic moves of the cha-cha retain their origins.