Because the cha cha has been a favorite ballroom dance form for decades, cha cha dance instruction has been perfected over the years to the point where almost anyone can learn it. Even better, in the age of digital media, finding multiple sources of instruction is easier than ever.
The Basic Step of the Cha-cha
The Cha-cha is a fun, playful dance, a quick give-and-take and "chase" theme between the partners. The music to the cha-cha usually follows a "slow-slow-quick-quick-quick" kind of beat, though not always. The dance is almost always fast, and the form is not rigid - the hips roll as the dancers move together, and while the dance does start in the formal "dance frame" (lead's right hand at the follow's mid-back, follow's left hand on the leads upper arm, and both of them loosely clasping their other hands together) there are a lot of points where that position is "broken" temporarily.
However, the basic cha cha dance steps are as follows (from the lead's perspective; the follow will mirror these steps):
- The lead steps forward with the left foot, letting the body weight rock forward through the hips.
- Lead's weight shifts back to the right foot, again letting the hips roll in time.
- The lead sidesteps to the left with the left foot, moving it only about six inches.
- The right foot follows, coming alongside the left in a near-shuffle step.
- The lead does another sidestep to the left with the left foot, identical to step three.
- The lead rocks backward again, stepping slightly to the left with the right foot.
- Since the left foot stayed in place, the lead rolls their weight back to it (again with the hip motion).
- Lead does the shuffle sttep forward and to the right, this time with the right foot, again about six inches.
- The lead's left foot comes next to the right.
- Sidestep to the right once more, shifting weight, and the lead is ready to start with step one again.
Because the two rocking steps and the shuffle steps mimic the slow-slow, quick-quick-quick beat of the cha cha music, the count is often "One-two-cha-cha-cha." However, technically the dance starts with the rock backwards by the lead, meaning that the dance would start on the "two" beat, not on the "one".
There are also countless variations, ornamentations and flourishes to the cha cha, all of which are learned as you progress through your cha cha dance training. For example, there is the "chase" (or "chassé") where the lead uses the step forward to pivot, so that both lead and follow are facing the same direction, and the shuffling step becomes a pursuit that is alternating as each person pivots. Another very easy variation is to open the frame out to the left or right by releasing the hands on that side during the "one-two" portion of the basic, with the partners turning their bodies out as if they were holding hands side by side.
Other sources of Cha Cha Dance Instructions
As mentioned above, in the world of the Internet, YouTube, and DVDs, there are many more places to get cha cha dance instructions besides the traditional dance studio. However, that is usually where you will get the best instruction, because it will be tailored to your own learning speed and dance ability, and you will receive instantaneous feedback.
Some websites offer basic information, much like the steps above, sometimes with diagrams. However, if you want to find videos of cha cha dance teaching, one of the best places is YouTube. From amateurs showing how they learned, to professional dance instructors donating their expertise, there are many videos, including professional ballroom competitors showing the "ultimate" cha cha moves.
Whatever way you learn, remember the primary goal of the cha cha: fun!