"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #110, Thursday, July 11, 2002
Cha Cha Cha Timing and Break
Why is it that in a party, if you watch people dancing a Cha Cha, so many
couples seem to be "off time"? This also came up recently when I was giving
my beginner student her first lesson in Cha Cha. She had a natural desire to
"break" on 1. In other words she felt like taking step 1 or the step 5 on
beat 1. To put it differently we were dancing 1.2, 3 & 4. When I told her
that we dance Cha Cha on 2.3, 4 & 1, her obvious question was Why?
You wont believe it, but when I bought my first Video from a retailer in California, they were teaching breaking on 1. I do not mean to imply that this was an authentic video from any respectable distributor. It was produced by an Athletic Department at some college. They tell me that in California, in some night clubs they do indeed dance like that. But, let us put it straight; the timing of Cha Cha is 2.3, 4&1 worldwide. So, now the question is Why?
For a moment I was taken aback and then soon I jogged my memory and I think I had the right explanation. I told her that dancing is no more than moving your body to music. So, the most important element of dancing is body expression to Music. Therefore it is important to understand music before moving your body to it.
Cha Cha music has "accent" on 1. Don't ask me what does that mean? Anyway, therefore we want to do the most dramatic thing on beat 1. The consensus is that the last cha of cha cha, cha cha cha, seems to demand more expression. It is obvious then the world has decided to dance Cha Cha as 2.3, 4&1.
All your teachers will tell you, take your time on 1. Dont mingle it with 2.
Does body stop dancing on 1. No, the body is going through some type of "churning" movement and it has not stopped dancing but indeed to an observer it may seem like it is froze. This an illusion.
This letter is dedicated to my beginner student Tari who insinuated me to write this tid-bit. Comments are welcome, best wishes, Max