Written by Jake Fuller
Originally known as the Cha-Cha-Cha. Became popular about 1954. Cha Cha is an offshoot of the Mambo.
When the English dance teacher Pierre Margolie visited Cuba in 1952, he realised that sometimes the Rumba was danced with extra beats. This is said to be an innovation introduced in 1948 by the musician Enrique Jorrin, combining two Cuban dances, the 'Danzon' and the 'Montuno'. When Pierre returned to Britain, he started teaching these steps as a separate dance.
In the slow Mambo tempo, there was a distinct sound in the music that people began dancing to, calling the step the "Triple" Mambo. Eventually it evolved into a separate dance, known today as the Cha Cha.
The dance consists of three quick steps (triple step or cha cha cha) and two slower steps on the one beat and two beat.
The "Cha Cha" is danced at about 120 beats per minute. The steps are taken on the beats, with a strong hip movement as the knee straightens on the half beats in between. The weight is kept well forward, with forward steps taken toe-flat, and it is danced with minimal upper-torso movement. The chasse on 4&1 is used to emphasise the step on beat 1, which may be held a moment longer than the other steps to match the emphasis of the beat in the music.
Cha Cha Video clips in our free Cha Cha Videos section.
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