Cha cha

April 17th, 2010

When a notable English dance teacher 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 combining two Cuban dances, the ‘Danzon’ and the ‘Montuno’. When he returned to Britain, he started teaching these steps as a separate dance. The name Cha Cha could have come from the fast and cheerful Cuban dance the Guaracha. This dance had been popular in Europe before the 1900’s. It is also possible that the name Cha Cha is derived from the sound made by the feet in the basic step the ‘chase’. This would explain for it being called the ‘Cha Cha Cha’ by some people, after the rhythm of the dance.
In 1954, the dance was described as a “Mambo with a guiro rhythm”. The Mambo originated in Haiti, and was introduced to the West in 1948 by Perez Prado. The word “Mambo” is the name of a Voodoo priestess in the religion brought by slaves from Africa – so the Cha Cha had its origins in the religious ritual dances of West Africa. There are three forms of Mambo: single, double, and triple. The triple has five steps to a bar, and this is the version that evolved into the Cha Cha Cha.
When dancing the Cha Cha Cha, Marie-Louise and Garreth try to focus on the cheeky interplay that has also become a characteristic of the dance. It’s fast and fun and really enjoyed by Marie-Louise and Garreth.

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