Cha Cha Defined

One of the most popular of the social Latin-American dances, the Cha Cha is vigorous and flirtatious, full of passion and energy.

Date added to ADN: Tuesday, Feb 21 2012
Originally Published: Sunday, Jan 01 2012
By The AccessDance Network


One of the most popular of the social Latin-American dances, the Cha Cha is vigorous and flirtatious, full of passion and energy.

Originally known as the Cha-cha-cha, the Cha Cha became popular about 1954.Originating in Cuba, it has African and Cuban rhythms that blend with a Latin beat. The name "cha-cha" was first known in Haiti, as a component of a bell. Haitians learned to use the bell element as an instrument to keep time. The dance cha-cha was derived from mambo. When it got to America, the audiences complained that it was jerky and very fast. As a result, orchestras started to slow it down and the cha-cha was formed. The cha-cha, therefore, is a slowed down three times version of mambo. Cha-cha was also affiliated with Enrique Jorrin, a Cuban violinist who slowed down the beat of the mambo and made many recordings implementing the change.

Dancing cha-cha requires the knowledge of the "Cuban motion", the distinctive Latin movement of the hips. The knees bend and straighten alternately. As one knee bends, the same hip drops and vice versa. Cha-cha is danced to 4/4 time where the fourth beat is split into two. Therefore the rhythm is counted as 2,3,4 and 1.The dance has three quick steps and two slower steps on the first and second beat. This dance is often associated with rumba and mambo because of similarities in steps. The triple step of cha-cha replaces the slow steps of the other two dances.

The music of cha-cha has a tempo of 110 to 130 beats per minute, creating a happy and carefree atmosphere. It is often performed with authentic Cuban rhythm but transcends different musical genres such as hip hop, country and funk. Its popularity continued on with the music of Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana, and Enrique Iglesias.

Lively, playful and flamboyant…these best describe the nature of the dance called cha-cha. With its upbeat and contagious rhythm, it has gained its distinction of being one of the leading rhythms of the last few decades. It's a dance that has transcended cultures and generations. It truly is a dance loved by many. If you want to have fun, do the chachacha!

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