Dancing Tid-bits Letter #40, Thursday, March 1, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Chasses: Cha Cha v Jive

Dear Max:
I have recently found your Dancing Tid-bits on the web. I have very limited knowledge about ballroom dancing, but found that your articles are the most informative and readable articles on ballroom dancing that I have ever read. I have a question. Are the chasse steps in Jive and Cha Cha danced exactly the same way? If not, what are the differences?, Kylent

Today's Topic: Chasses: Cha Cha v Jive

Kylent, Thank you for your kind remarks. Yes, Cha Cha Cha chasses are different in many ways from Jive Chasses, Let's count the ways!

Note: We will confine our discussion to "side chasse movement" and will not discuss the chasse variations in this letter. Let's discuss chasse to right.

1. Feet Positions: In Cha Cha, the movement is classical "side together side". So RF to side, LF closes or half closes to RF and then RF to side. If you would recall my letter #34 on Jive, I quoted Hazel Fletcher teaching Jive Chasse technique. Even though the text books may say that the first step is to side, actually the first 2 steps in Jive chasses are more or less in place and 3rd step to side. If I recall her words correctly, she described this as "Close to Chasse". Now I just got up and tried the Jive Chasse. My right foot went 1 inch to side, Lf closed to right foot and then on 3rd step I took RF to side about 6 inches. In Cha Cha I wanted to travel more like a foot or so on each step. Am I making any sense?

2. Footwork: In Cha Cha the footwork is Ball Flat throughout. In Jive I feel Ball, Ball, Ballflat. I think this is consistent with the speed of music and feet positions.

3. Leg Action: Jive is Bouncy with pressure into the floor. Cha Cha Cha by its nature and slower speed is more lateral, if you know what I mean. I might add that in Basic Jive Chasse, two legs are never straight at the same time. In Cha Cha you will use the two legs straight more often specially at the end of a chasse.

4. Hip Movements: The hip movement or so called Cuban motion is most pronounced in Rumba. The slow pace of rumba music allows settling of the hip and more or less same principles are applied to Cha Cha. However due to a faster tempo and taking of three steps on 41 instead one step as in Rumba, the hip movement is not pronounced on the split beat (4&). It can also be said that hip movenent is absent here because both knees are slightly bent at this time. There is indeed hip movement on later part of count 2, 3, and 1. Jive on the other hand flies and is bouncy with lots of knee and ankle action, so I dont even think about the hip action. In other words the hip motion in Jive is minimal or shall I say "none". Your comments are welcome.

5. Timing, Beat value and Tempo: Cha Cha Cha chasses are danced 4&1. So if "&" represents 1/2 beat, the value of cha cha chasses is 1/2, 1/2, 1. Jive chasse is counted 1 a 2. If "a" represents 1/4 beat the beat value for Jive chasse is 3/4, 1/4, 1. A tempo of 44 bmp is common for Jive but Cha Cha is slower at about 32 bpm.

Now Kylent I hope you understand that I have analyzed this as a Bronze level student. You can change things as you like, but it is dangerous to jump and learn unusual things before we master the basics. A social dancer in my opinion will never have enough time to even master the basics. That is why I say, "Do less but do it well". Even if we cant do it well but if we understand the technique, it adds to the joy of dancing. Soon perhaps we should discuss the Chasse Variations in Cha Cha, until then best wishes from, Max..the voice of Dancing Tid-bits.

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits