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Street ChaCha

General Info > The Dances

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Street Cha Cha

Cha cha cha is danced over two measures of 4/4. Dancers usually use a pattern of 8 counts across two bars to describe the basic step. Count 1 is a step in place, leader's left foot, follower's right. Count 2 the leader makes a break step backward on the right foot, follower steps forward on the left. Count 3 the leader steps in-place on the left, follower on the right. On "4-and-5" the leader makes two quick steps and steps in place: right-left-right. On 6 the leader breaks forward on the left, on 7 steps in place on the right, and on 8-and-1 the small "cha cha" steps return to the start of the cycle. As a matter of etiquette, many leaders start on 6 to avoid the first step stepping away from the partner, symbolising rejection.

The Cha-Cha-Cha falls on 4-and-5 and on 8-and-1. Because this does not gel with the conventional ways of subdividing rhythms, i.e. it spans the end of one bar and the beginning of the next, enabling the teacher to call out "2 3 cha-cha-cha 6 7 cha-cha-cha"

The Cha-Cha part of the rhythm is a compact chasse. When dancing the cha-cha very small steps are needed because of its rhythm. The cha-cha part of the rhythm is a series of small gliding steps that barely touch the floor. A huge variety of fancy footwork can be added to the dance. Weight has to be moved carefully to make motions look gliding. The cha-cha includes a lot of hip motion. Even though the cha-cha uses smaller steps, dancers in competitions usually make their movement slightly longer to travel across the floor. The Cha-cha became hugely popular in the United States as did the mambo in the 1950s. Dancers began inventing new steps and turns to win competitions.

Above & below are two short sample tracks. Please use the controls to pause and play each track individually to get a feel for this type of music.

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